CSO of the Week: Gulagu.net

The civil society organisation Gulagu.net continued in the news this week. Gulagu.net describes itself as a project ‘against corruption and torture in Russia, bringing together more than 18,000 activists and volunteers.’ The group is headed by Vladimir Osechkin who wrote on Facebook on 4 October that his team had obtained a large batch of videos that he claimed showed prison inmates being tortured by agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN). This week Osechkin identified the person who leaked the videos of torture as Belarusian IT engineer Syarhey Savelyeu. Savelyeu is now in France where he is seeking asylum. A former inmate of Remand Centre No. 1 in Irkutsk region, Denis Golikov, also provided information to Gulagu.net about systemic torture in the Russian penal system.


RFE/RL, 17 October 2021: “At the request of prosecutors, detainees who refused to ‘cooperate’ with investigators were sent to us,” Golikov said in his video statement. “We were forced to ‘work’ with them so they would give the ‘necessary’ testimony that investigators wanted. People would scream for hours that they were being murdered…. You’d sign anything just to avoid listening to those screams — to say nothing about when they started working on you.” “In exchange, they promised not to touch me,” Golikov added. “And the investigator promised to somehow ‘settle matters’ with the judge to get me parole.”

The Moscow Times, 18 October 2021: A former inmate who leaked videos depicting alleged torture inside Russian prisons is seeking asylum in France, a prominent NGO that tracks abuses in Russia’s prison system said over the weekend.

RFE/RL, 19 October 2021: The French-based founder and leader of the Gulagu.net human rights group, Vladimir Osechkin, has identified the man who handed him part of a video archive of alleged torture and sexual assaults in Russian prisons earlier this month.

The Moscow Times, 19 October 2021: The former inmate behind a video leak showing alleged rape and torture inside a Russian prison said he could no longer keep the explosive revelations to himself, speaking to AFP from France where he is now seeking asylum.

RFE/RL, 22 October 2021: А former Russian inmate who leaked a massive cache of videos showing evidence of rampant torture in Russian prisons said he believes prison guards were prone to using sexual assault against their victims “because it is the cruelest.”

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