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Russian authorities have arrested five serving and former prison guards amid a national controversy over brutality by officers in the country’s jails.

The authorities say the guards, from a prison in the southern city of Novocherkaask, had beaten up an inmate by kicking and punching him.

Two of the detained guards no longer work at the jail. Three other guards are under investigation.

In a separate case, the alleged mistreatment of inmates was behind a protest last weekend in the Ural Mountains town of Kopeysk in the eastern Chelyabinsk region.

Human rights activists say violence in Russian prisons has grown recently.

“Unfortunately the law enforcement and penitentiary system in the Chelyabinsk region is widely known at home and abroad. In 2008 four inmates were killed and local prison chiefs tried to falsify the evidence,” said the Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin.

The protest in Kopeysk resulted in at least 38 arrests on public order offences. Riot police were accused of attacking a group of inmates’ relatives.

Hundreds had gathered outside the jail after visits were refused. They also claimed that conditions were bad and that prisoners had been beaten and humiliated by officers.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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