Republic of Karelia Gulag: Corruption in the Federal Penitentiary Service results in torturing, murdering of prisoners
It has never been a secret that prison guards torture inmates in Russian prisons. This issue has been a relevant one for the country for many years. However, prison public servants tell their own versions of events sometimes. These stories do not seem credible; prison officials speak about ‘accidents’ and ‘instances of self-torture’ among prisoners. Such lies help the Service management and employees get away with their atrocities they commit behind barbed fences. Ildar Dadin revealing what he had to go through in a Republic prison sparked a new scandal surrounding Russian prisons.
The Service will conduct another inspection concerning reports of torture in the IK-7 Corrective Labor Colony located in the Republic. It was Ildar Dadin who provided the information. The inspection was ordered by the Service management. It will be conducted in the Segezha Town prison. The inspection will be conducted despite Valery Meksimenko, the Service Deputy Head, having stated “the case was settled”, according to a CrimeRussia's source.
It was an order of the Presidential Administration of Russian Federation that resulted in the decision conduct the inspection. It was given in the wake of a meeting between the Russian President and members of the Human Rights Council of the Russian Federation held on December 8. The President and human rights defenders discussed the issue of the prison, among other things. Igor Kalyapin and Pavel Chikov, the Council members, had visited the colony and reported prisoner abuse. Andrey Babushkin, the Chair of the Committee for Civil Rights, handed Vladimir Putin a letter from the colony inmates with detailed description of tortures they suffer.
Valery Maksimenko, the Service Deputy Head
Other countries got interested in the story, too. What we are talking about it not just a European Parliament resolution containing a demand to investigate prisoners’ complaints; the situation led to some unofficial diplomatic agreements. The Service management is going to meet with Mr Babushkin and other representatives of the human rights community soon, according to a CrimeRussia's source.
The Segezha Office of Investigations is conducting an inspection. It was launched as a result of complaints about torture and beating made by several IK-7 inmates. It is possible prison employees put pressure on the victims; lawyers could not see their clients for several days due to bogus excuses.
It is not the first time the colony drew attention of human rights defendants. The Civil Assistance Committee put it among the worst prisons that allow prisoner abuse. Prisoners have been complaining about unimaginable cruelty of IK-7 prison guards since 2010. They have been silenced, however.
“The colony employees – guards and correction officers - <…> beat prisoners on a regular basis. They kick them and hit with truncheons in vital organs, stretch inmates’ legs and use other torture techniques,” according to a complaint of the wife of Vladimir Davidovich Nikuradze, an inmate. She posted it at gulagu.net. “(Prison guards) beat, stretched, and made inmates do splits before the management”, according to Mamedov Elshan Rovshanovich, another prisoner. Denis Silinov, a former inmate, revealed how correction officers torture prisoners. “(They) make you go into a dryer room or toilet and start punching and kicking you,” according to the inmate.
There were about 10 such complaints on the Internet as long ago as half a year ago; more than enough for an inspection. No one bothered conducting one back then, however.
Human rights defendants stepped in in 2014. They reported a beating of Lom-Ali Gelogaev. The Chechen man convicted of blackmailing went through elaborate humiliation; guards would lock him inside a fridge and hang in midair. News conferences and complaints to authorized bodies ended up being useless; Mr Gelogaev was simply transferred to another area.
Ildar Dadin’s letter was published on the Medusa Project web-site November 1, 2016; a lot of similar statements appeared soon after. It is former inmates who publish them. Relatives of those currently incarcerated gathered at a news conference in Moscow.
“(Prison guards) beat, stretched and hit him in the head and heels. He lost hearing in his right ear due to beatings,” an IK-7 prisoner’s brother said.
“Prison guards do torture them severely. Severely. He suffered rupture of all the ligaments. He had an epileptic seizure immediately after being put to the Verkhneuralsk special prison,” another inmate’s mother explained.
“(Correction officers) beat him badly for 2 weeks straight. “We get bitten for supper, breakfast, and dinner”, as he put it. Beatings are common there. Local prison guards have special heavy truncheons coated with some fabric; he got hit in the head with them a lot. He even said he starts thinking he has some sort of hematoma when he raises his eyebrows and that he has constant headaches,” the third’s prisoner mother said.
Human rights defendants publish such evidences of prisoner abuse in IK-7 at a dedicated website. “The last time I was beaten was on either February 14 or 12, 2016. About 10 to 12 duty shift correction officers participated in the beating. They kicked and punched me. They made me stretch out to the degree when my head touched the ground; stretched my legs to the sides; hit me in the head with various objects. They then escorted me to the IK-7 warden who threatened me with locking me in the prison yard naked where I would “die like a god”. I felt violent pain in my chest and right side after the beating; I can feel a broken rib protrude even to this day”.
“I was tortured during an evening inspection on March 11, 2016. Correction officers made me do splits. I cut my stomach and wrist veins intending to commit a suicide upon entering my cell once the inspection was over. <…> I was tortured by the prison correction officers once again during a morning inspection on March 13, 2016. They made me do splits again. They then threw me down and began punching me”.
“(Correction officers) made me go out of my cell and kiss the wall on the evening of August 15, 2015, at about 06:15-06:30 PM. They stretched my legs, pushed my knees against the wall, punched me in my lower back, applied a submission hold to my right knew, then twisted my arm, dislocated my shoulder. It makes a distinctive crackling sound even to this day. This went on for at least 20 minutes. Correction officers yelled that I would “fucking die” there and that they will hang me”.
This is only a small portion of evidences given by former IK-7 inmates. It is worth mentioning that there are similar complaints against other colonies, too. IK-1, IK-9, LIU-4 are among the said prisons accused of torturing, beatings, and blackmailing. The former is a tuberculosis hospital where especially persistent and irreconcilable inmates are transferred. Healthy people were sent there for intimidation, according to LIU-4 inmates.
IK-1 and IK-9 have bad reputation, too. Prison guards beat inmates to death in both colonies. One such death that occurred in 2015 even made it to media outlets. However, the prison got away with murder by simply claiming the inmate ‘inflicted the lethal injuries himself’ as a result of his ‘abnormal behavior’. “He began complaining and gesticulating violently. Correction officers tried to calm the inmate down but failed to do so. Then the Service employees threw him down and handcuffed. He continued to scream and smack his head against the floor,” according to reported version presented by the Service.
There are reports of deaths among IK-7 inmates, too. One such death occurred in May 2016.
Prison guards use the same torture techniques across the Republic. They lock prisoners in refrigerator rooms, hang them on racks (a torture device, translator’s note), make them do splits, and rape with truncheons. There are known cases of prison guards blackmailing prisoners for large sums of money. They claimed they were “tributes” guaranteeing protection from torture and beating.
This is not the only way the Republic prison employees make money, however. They also make prisoners work. Work is illicit sometimes, too. For example, IK-9 makes its prisoners work on paper-rolling machines. This production was not officially documented or reported to any authority whatsoever.
IK-9 only manufactures food (macaroni, baked goods, and rabbit meat), metal fencing, and light fitting, according to documents. The colony management had to make changes to its Unified State Register of Legal Entities status as the result of complaints submitted by relatives of the prison inmates to police. They legalized manufacturing of paper and cardboard. A corresponding entry appeared only on November 30, 2016.
Aleksandr Terekh being appointed the Head of the Regional Directorate of the Service is believed to be event that led to such a state of affairs. The current Service Head finished school in the Nadvoitsi village. He began working as a firefighter in the LIU-4 Corrective Labor Colony, Verkhny village, Sergezhsky District. Mr Terekh was then hired as an investigator for the IK-1 Nadvoitsky village Corrective Labor Colony. He served as the IK-1 warden from 2004 to 2006 and became the IK-9 warden afterwards.
Aleksandr Terekh, the Head of the Regional Directorate of the Service in the Republic of Karelia
Rashid Nurgaliev, the former MIA of the Russian Federation Head and current Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, is Aleksandr Terekh’s “patron”. It is him who helped Mr Terekh get into the office. It is worth mentioning that Gumar Nurgaliev, Rashid Nurgaliev’s father, served as the LIU-4 (the Verkhny village) warden at the time when Aleksandr Terekh began working there.
These two seem to be tied to Gennady Kornienko, the current Service Head. He was born in Lakhdenpolkiya, Republic of Karelia. He is from the same region as Messrs Terekh and Nurgaliev. Mr Kornienko served in the FSB and Federal Guard Service of the Russian Federation prior to getting hired by the Penitentiary Service. Mr Nurgaliev served in the Guard Service at the same time.
Aleksand Terekh, who served as the IK-1 warden and later as the IK-9 warden, patronized Sergey Chasovsky, a St Petersburg criminal, according to a former Penitentiary Service employee, a retired captain. Mr Chasovsky had an individual room, could use mobile phone and get narcotics from his friends. “Mr Chasovsky was transferred to IK-9 when Mr Terekh was appointed the IK-9 warden. Mr Chasovsky worked as the chief work-assignment dispatcher there. He was more influential than any senior officer,” he explained.
Nilolay Gavrilenko was a close friend of Mr Terekh at the time. Mr Gavrilenko, being the IK-7 Deputy Head of Security and Investigation, patronized Mr Blonskikh, a St Petersburg criminal, according to a 2004 investigation of the Security Service of the Penal Correction Department of the Republic. Mr Gavrilenko was neither prosecuted nor dismissed, but instead transferred to IK-1 and given an equivalent position. Mr Terekh was the colony warden at the time. Mr Gavrilenko is the prison warden now. Aleksandr Terekh’s son works there, serving under command of Mr Gavrilenko.
Nilolay Aleksandrovich Gavrilenko, the IK-9 warden
The Public Prosecution Office opened criminal cases on the allegation of corruption against IK-9 employees in 2006-2007, according to CrimeRussia's sources in the Penitentiary Service. But the investigation was suddenly closed. Aleksey Morozov, the IK-9 Deputy Head for Security and Investigations and the main suspect, was dismissed and transferred to the Directorate of Corrective Services. He managed to get promoted to a Colonel working there. It is worth mentioning that he is Sergey Morozov’s son. Mr Morozov Senior was the Deputy Head of the Penitentiary Service in the Republic at the time.
Aleksey Fedotov is the current Deputy Head of the Penitentiary Service in the Republic. He used to serve as the warden of both IK-1 and IK-7. Sergey Kossiev was his assistant. He is also known as the 'main Karelian sadist'.
Human rights defendants think Mr Dadin being comparatively famous is the reason why media outlets pay so much attention to his story. This case has been a major source of headache for the Penitentiary Service. IK-7 got used to getting away with crimes and did not make an exemption for a capital resident. However, CrimeRussia sources suppose that is not the only reason.
Sergey Kossiev, the 'mail Karelian sadist'
Ildar Dadin got involved with politics in 2012, riding on the wave of protests. He was prosecuted for several one-person pickets. The prosecution considered them to be “unapproved public action”. His fellow picketers published several videos on the Internet. They showed he did not participate in any mass public actions. It did not stop the prosecution from accusing him of the said activities. He ended up receiving a prison term even despite Genry Reznik, a famous Russian attorney, standing up for him.
Mr Dadin comes from a poor family. He does not have any leverage with the Penitentiary Service despite having ties to the human rights community and media outlets, as pointed out by the CrimeRussia interviewees. It may very well be that some public authorities competing with the “Karelian clan” also support the scandal. It is not unlikely that the State Duma and Federation Council of the Russian Federation react to the situation soon.
Saburova believes that the Russian authorities violated articles 2 and 5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, guaranteeing the right to life, as well as the right to freedom and personal inviolability.