Russian opposition activist Ildar Dadin claims he is being beaten, repeatedly tortured and threatened with rape and murder in Karelia penal colony in the northwest of the country.
In a letter to his wife, which was published on the online news portal Meduza after he dictated it to his lawyer, Dadin claims “there is an entire mafia operating at penal colony 7.”
“The guards arrived, bound me behind my back and hung me from my handcuffs,” he said of an incident which reportedly took place on September 12. “Such a hanging leads to terrible pain in your wrists, dislocates your elbow joints and makes you feel sharp pain in your back.”
IK7 was the same colony tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was held in, on what were widely considered politically motivated charges.
In December, 2015, Dadin became the first person to be jailed for violating a law forbidding multiple protests within six months. The initial three-year term was reduced to two and a half years on appeal.
“He went out with a banner and got a prison term of two and a half years for it,” said Sergei Ozhich, also a Russian opposition activist, who demonstrated against prison brutality outside the Federal Penitentiary Service in Moscow.
“Two and a half years of prison just for going to the street with a banner. And now this person is not only in jail, he is being tortured. How can we tolerate this? How can any free civilised person tolerate this? I don’t understand. That’s why we are here, that’s why I am here.”
While Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta claims a guard admitted force was used when Dadin refused to cooperate, prison officials were adamant that “not one physical injury has been found” on him, Russia’s Interfax new agency reports. Dadin denies refusing to follow prison rules.
Amnesty International, which condemned his conviction as “a shocking and cynical attack on freedom of expression,” is calling for an inquiry into the allegations.
President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the incident should be investigated by the relevant authorities.