Sergei Nikitin: May 2019 - Female prisoners in Krasnoturinsk prison allege torture

posted 2 Jun 2019, 14:01 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Oct 2019, 11:08 by Translation Service ]
2 June 2019

In these monthly blogs, Sergei Nikitin presents a selection of materials about human rights in Russia.

Sergei Nikitin headed Amnesty International's Moscow office from 2003 until 2017. He is a member of the advisory council of Rights in Russia.

Krasnoturinsk is a town to the north of Ekaterinburg in the Urals region of Russia. Local human rights activists Aleksei Sokolov, Yana Helmel and lawyer Oleg Bakin regularly travel over 200 miles to get there from Ekaterinburg, meeting with female convicts in the local prison colony, IK-16, in order to provide them with legal assistance.

They arrived on May 22nd and entered the colony premises, where Bakin waited for the prisoners. However, the deputy head of the colony, E. Yesaulkov, came in their place and led Bakin to the convicts' quarters. The women, without ever going into the room, verbally declined to meet with a lawyer. No explanation for this refusal was given. The prisoners were then led away in an unknown direction. According to Bakin most of the girls looked depressed, answering questions evasively and quietly.

That afternoon, Bakin once again filed a request to the IK-16 administration to meet with the other convicts. However, as was the case earlier that day, the prisoners were led in by the same officers. These women, who were under close supervision, all quietly stated that they did not wish to meet with a lawyer.

As a result, Bakin was unable to provide legal advice to female prisoners, who had previously complained about instances of torture as well as failure to provide medical assistance in the colony.

Back in April 2019, Bakin, alongside lawyers Roman Kachanov and Olga Herman visited IK-16 to provide legal advice for female prisoners, who had previously reached out to a human rights organization for help, in connection with the violation of their rights. Yet subsequently, almost all of these visibly-distressed prisoners refused the lawyers’ help. Only one of the prisoners agreed to meet with the lawyers, but the colony administration decided to quickly move her to the municipal hospital in a police van, which remained outside the hospital until the lawyers had left the colony.

In March 2019, the Ural human rights activists came to this colony several times, meeting convicts and providing them with legal advice. During this time, female convicts complained of threats from Yesaulkov, who psychologically pressured them and demanded that they refuse the help of human rights activists.

Immediately after meeting with the convicts, activists filed a complaint, in which they highlighted Yesaulkov’s threats and other illegal actions.

The local prosecutor's office, however, decided that there were no grounds for sending the verification materials to the preliminary investigation bodies. Only one prisoner, Anastasia Porokhina, confirmed that she was under pressure. The rest of the women did not confirm whether or not they were subject to threats or intimidation from Yesaulkov.

In late March, all female convicts refused the help of human rights defenders.

Human rights defender Aleksei Sokolov (pictured left) says:

Women prisoners who complained of torture are now forbidden to call home and meet with lawyers or human rights activists. According to the prisoners’ relatives, those who disobey are immediately transferred to strict detention conditions, or are threatened by the colony administration.”

The guards of the colony, who have received numerous complaints from female prisoners, have since attempted to sue Sokolov. Additionally, they have tried to control the site "Human Rights Defenders of the Urals", which publishes information about instances of torture and the failure to provide medical assistance to the women held at IK-16.

The court date is set for May 27th, 2019 in Ekaterinburg. Sokolov says: “We are preparing for it, and the wardens can expect some unpleasant surprises."

Source: Pravozashchitniki Urala, 23 May 2019

Translated by James Lofthouse