13 Oct 2021 19:41

Former penitentiary officials to be removed from public monitoring commissions - Russian Justice Ministry

MOSCOW. Oct 13 (Interfax) - Former employees of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) might no longer sit on public monitoring commissions, the Russian Justice Ministry said.

"The attendees of the meeting [between Justice Minister Konstantin Chuichenko and representatives of the Presidential Council for Human Rights, public monitoring commissions, and the FSIN on Wednesday] also agreed to continue working to improve the formation mechanism for public monitoring commissions. In particular, it was suggested that former FSIN employees should be excluded from public monitoring commissions to avoid conflict of interest," the Justice Ministry said in a statement obtained by Interfax on Wednesday.

"It is important to legislate effective mechanisms that would protect the rights of prison inmates," Chuichenko said.

He also "noted the need to allow free access to penitentiary facilities by representatives from the Public Chamber and the [presidential] human rights council."

Earlier the council's member Andrei Babushkin told Interfax that public figures were going to meet with Chuichenko and FSIN officials to discuss countering prisoner torture.

Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the Gulagu.net human rights project, said earlier on the Ekho Moskvy radio station that the project acquired and took outside of Russia over 1,000 Federal Penitentiary Service videos that confirm systemic torture in Russian penitentiaries and detention facilities in the Irkutsk, Saratov, and Vladimir regions. These include materials showing alleged torture at FSIN Regional Tuberculosis Hospital No. 1 (OTB-1) in the Saratov region.

The footage prompted a public outcry.

The investigative committee launched seven criminal inquiries into sexual violence and exceeding authority using violence.

FSIN Director Alexander Kalashnikov fired the FSIN regional head Alexei Fedotov, OTB-1 chief Pavel Gatsenko and three of his subordinates.