Valery Borshchev on the sudden dismissal of the head of Federal Penitentiary Service: “Torture has become systemic.”
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Co-chairman of Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG), Valery Borshchev.

25 November 2021

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Национальная служба новостей]

After Kalashnikov’s dismissal there’s hope that the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) will cooperate more with human rights defenders on sensitive issues for the system, said the co-chairman of Moscow Helsinki Group Valery Borshchev.

The head of FSIN neglected his duties and covered up torture, the human rights defender stressed in his conversation with the Telegram-channel Radio station NSN.

On the 25 November President Vladimir Putin dismissed the head of FSIN Aleksandr Kalashnikov. Arkady Gostev, the former Deputy head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs since 2012, was appointed as head of the Federal Penitentiary Service.

“Kalashnikov regularly hid the facts about the use of torture uncovered by human rights defenders. Mind you, many of the sadists ended up with dismissals or other lenient measures. It became clear that torture is part of  the FSIN system, it won’t be given up. It’s not only the Saratov region (a hightly publicised video recording of the torture of prisoners in tuberculosis hospital No. 1 of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Saratov Region was published in early October). Before that, Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova sent a commission to Angarsk, Irkutsk region, where terrible torture happened. The system permits and encourages it, to be able to keep it within some limits. Kalashnikov showed himself to be short-sighted. Previously in charge was his first deputy Anatoly Rudy, he was trying to do something. Before we (human rights defenders) were invited to discuss problems, for example we insisted and succeeded in organising the trip to Angarsk. Kalashnikov on the other hand didn’t’ try to do anything and the exposés of torture undermined his career”, says Borshchev.

Kalashnikov’s dismissal confirms the increased attention of the authorities to the penitentiary system, the human rights activist believes.

“If The Federation Council debates whether to include an article on torture in the Russian Criminal Code, this means the case has reached the Federal Assembly. The authorities are facing the fact that torture has become systemic. This played a role in Kalashnikov’s dismissal. I don’t know Arkady Gostev. I hope he will change his position and will cooperate with human rights defenders”, the co-chairof MHG concluded.

Translated by Ecaterina Hughes

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