Saveljew reports from asylum: Russia is looking for torture informants

by time news

Savelyev reports from asylum
Russia is looking for torture informants

A former inmate reveals torture and violence in Russian prisons earlier this month and flees to France. Now the official search is on for him. He already has a clue of what he’s being accused of.

Russia is looking for a former convict who shared videos of torture and abuse in Russian prisons with human rights defenders. According to the Russian Interior Ministry, the Belarusian citizen Sergei Savelyev is wanted in connection with an unspecified criminal case. Savelyev is now in France, where he has applied for asylum.

The 31-year-old smuggled shocking footage of abuse from a prison in the central Russian city of Saratov. The anti-torture organization Gulagu.net published these recordings in early October. A video shows a prisoner being raped with a pole in a prison hospital. According to human rights activists, the recordings document “systematic torture” by guards in Russian prisons.

Fearing reprisals, Savelyev fled Russia in February after his release and arrived in France last week. He had worked as an IT maintenance officer during his seven and a half year prison sentence for drug trafficking. In doing so, he gained access to the prison’s internal server and the servers of other detention centers, where he found several videos. He saved it on a USB stick that he hid near the prison exit.

“It’s a shame”

Savelyev said on Saturday in a video published by Gulagu.net that he believed that the allegations against him were “disclosure of state secrets”. The Russian authorities “are going the only way they know, the route of violence,” he said. They would try to “silence” him.

“It is a shame that they are trying to hide the truth instead of using the time to reform the system and examine all the terrible evidence we have presented them,” he added. He called for “all those involved in this torture factory to be punished” instead. After the videos were released, the Kremlin promised to investigate the abuse. At least four prison officials were released. Human rights activists regularly report torture, humiliation and beatings by Russian prison staff and other inmates.

Just over a week ago there had been a mass uprising in a prison in the Russian Caucasian republic of North Ossetia. According to Gulagu.net, the mutiny was triggered by guards beating inmates with rubber truncheons. In order to stop this harassment, some inmates cut their veins, the activists said. However, Russian authorities said that two detainees resisted planned searches and incited other inmates.

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