Horrifying new footage leaked from the archives of Russia’s prison service has revealed how inmates were raped inside a ‘torture chamber’ at a notorious jail.
Video reviewed by MailOnline documents the abuse of at least five inmates who were urinated on, raped by male prisoners, and violated with blunt objects.
Campaigners say the deeply disturbing abuse took place in OTB-1, a prison hospital in the Saratov region, close to Russia’s border with Kazakhstan.
They say inmates were subjected to the abuse in order to force them into false confessions, then blackmailed with the footage into abusing other prisoners or becoming jailhouse informants.
Horrifying new footage has been leaked detailing the sexual abuse, rape and torture of male inmates inside Russia’s prisons under the watchful eye of guards
Videos reveal at least five inmates being urinated on, raped by male inmates, and violated with blunt objects inside a prison hospital in the Saratov region
It is just the latest in a disturbing series of videos that were leaked from jailhouse archives by a former inmate, and handed to human rights site Gulagu.net.
Activists writing on the website said officers in Russia’s Federal Prison Service (FSIN) and FSB spy agency oversaw the ‘conveyor belt’ of abuse at OTB-1.
They say gangs of rapists were employed as orderlies and caretakers at the hospital to provide cover for them if their presence was questioned.
But, campaigners say, their actual job was the routine sexual abuse of inmates as part of a ‘criminal conspiracy’ operating within the jail.
The rapes were filmed, with footage sent back to the FSIN and FSB so it could be archived and then used as blackmail.
Campaigners say the operation was carried out with the knowledge of senior members of both agencies and may have gone on for as long as a decade.
While the videos currently in their possession relate to Saratov jail, they say they are working at uncovering similar schemes in other prisons around the country.
‘Hundreds of documents and new video files have been collected, which confirm the massive nature of torture in FSIN institutions and the FSB’s involvement in a number of violations and crimes,’ a post on the site says.
The footage was leaked by a former inmate who says he was tasked with archiving it so it could be used to blackmail the prisoners into becoming abusers themselves
Gulagu is blocked from the Russian internet and Vladimir Osechkin, the site’s founder, is in hiding in France – but the videos have still caused outcry back home.
Several prison officers have been fired while a massive investigation is underway, with 38 senior officials due to testify about the scandal today.
Anton Yefarkin, head of the Saratovp prison service, subsequently revealed that 18 officials have been fired with 11 facing ‘the strictest’ disciplinary measures.
Five criminal cases have been opened in connection to the videos, he said.
‘We are doing everything to work things out and draw the appropriate conclusions,’ Yefarkin told regional state television.
‘I am sure that in the future this will not repeat itself,’ he said.
Osechkin claims to have been given the videos by Sergei Savelyev, a Belarusian former inmate of the jail who claims he was asked to archive the footage – and managed to smuggle some out of the country after his release.
Now also living in France where he is claiming asylum, Savelyev’s trove of material allegedly reveals the abuse of 40 prisoners – though campaigners say anecdotally the true number of victims is around 200, and could be more.
The first batch of footage was released last month, with footage including a man screaming in pain as he is violated with a mop handle, one male prisoner raping another who is tied to a bed, and a group of inmates urinating on another man.
Savelyev, a former programmer, claims to have been ‘beaten and tortured himself’ before he was deployed as a ‘professional’ to file the collection of abusive videos.
Abuse was recorded in the regions of Saratov, Vladimir, Irkutsk, Belgorod, TransBaikal, and Kamchatka, activists claim.
Activists say the campaign of abuse was carried out with the knowledge and approval of senior members of Russia’s prison service and FSB spy agency
Campaigners say they were handed a 40Gb trove of video smuggled out of Russia’s prison service by an inmate who was tasked with archiving the sick material
Tanya Lokshina, of Human Rights Watch, said her organisation could not verify the videos but the footage ‘gave grounds for strong concern.’
‘The problem of torture in Russian penitentiaries is very acute and the government is not doing enough to ensure effective investigation, security of victims and whistleblowers and accountability for perpetrators,’ she said.
Russian prison conditions were already in focus after jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny drew attention to them earlier this year.
Meanwhile six former inmates and a former prisons inspector told Reuters about regular beatings by guards, sexual assaults, severe psychological pressure and medical neglect.
The Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) said it had fired five senior prison officials, including the director of the prison where the alleged abuse took place and the head of the regional prison service.
Russian law says inmates must not be treated in a way that is ‘harsh’ or ‘abases human dignity’.
If a prison official abuses his position, he can be jailed for up to a decade.
The leaker – a Belarussian man jailed at Saratov prison (pictured) – has since been freed and is now seeking asylum in the West