The jailer versus the president

<< No 5 (238), 6 February 2017 >>

== By Lev Ponomarev ==

Everyone in our country knows who Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is, but they have only fairly recently heard about Sergei Leonidovich Kossiev, and even then not everyone. So let me remind you: Kossiev is head of the No. 7 torture prison colony in Karelia where, until very recently, the political prisoner Ildar Dadin was held.

Dadin spoke of the torture going on at the No. 7 prison colony and was transferred to Altai for safety reasons. But there are still around a dozen people at the No. 7 prison colony right now who confirm that torture is taking place. This information is being procedurally established by interviews with lawyers.

Some of the prisoners have also managed to complain to the Russian Federation Ombudsperson for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova, as well as to Igor Kalyapin and Pavel Chikov, both members of the Presidential Human Rights Council.

At present, these prisoners are being blatantly threatened by prison officers, who tell them that they will be “put in their place” as soon as the inspection is over, that they will be beaten even more severely and “crippled”, and that they will be prosecuted. And all this is done under the direct supervision of Kossiev, who has personally threatened to “break the legs” of those who complain. The interviews with lawyers containing allegations of torture can be found on the “Territory of Torture” website.

And on 18 January, the incredible happened. Aleksandr Terekh, head of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Karelia, visited the No. 7 prison colony and thanked (r) Kossiev for his work.

Just think about it: the head of the regional Federal Penitentiary Service is thanking his subordinate for personally tormenting prisoners.

And all this at a time when our state has declared it will combat torture in correctional institutions. President Vladimir Putin has regularly stated that it is illegal to use violence against prisoners. On 3 January 2017, in response to statements made by members of the Presidential Human Rights Council following their visit to the No. 7 prison colony in Karelia, Putin instructed the General Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the compliance of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) with legislation. And again, speaking on 11 January 2017 at an event to celebrate the 295th anniversary of the Russian Prosecution Service, the president said: “It is necessary to monitor the human rights situation with regard to individuals serving prison sentences.

The problem is, Kossiev doesn’t seem to give a damn about what Putin says. He has the support of Terekh himself, along with an entire group of sadistic prisoner officers.

The forthcoming visit by members of the Presidential Council for Human Rights to the prison colony is making the situation particularly urgent: prisoners will be intimidated even more before this trip to ensure that they withdraw their claims when the speak to the prestigious commission.

Kossiev together with Terekh and his violent prison officers versus President Putin and the Presidential Human Rights Council. Who will win this seemingly equal battle? Let’s stock up on popcorn and watch how the situation develops.

By Lev Ponomarev, executive director of the movement For Human Rights and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group

Translated by Nicky Brown

Moscow Helsinki Group
(from Ekho Moskvy, 25 January 2017)