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The federal government does not provide any information on Putin’s prison camps

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Status: 07/20/2022 10:58 a.m.

The human rights situation in the Russian penal system is considered to be poor. There is torture, abuse and corruption. The federal government knows the conditions there, but refuses to provide information.

Penal colony IK-6 is located in Melekhovo in the Vladimir region, about 250 kilometers east of Moscow. It is a particularly strict, notorious and feared camp. Former detainees denounce acts of torture, abuse and sexual violence. In recent weeks, IK-6 has had a new high-profile prisoner: opponent and opponent of Putin Alexej Navalny was transferred to this colony in mid-June. He should now be incarcerated here for at least nine more years.

It was a “monstrous place,” Navalny spokeswoman Kira Jarmysch said of the penal camp. The conditions there are worse than in the other camps. Fewer visits are allowed and prisoners are allowed to receive less mail. “This is one of the most terrible Russian prisons.”

There are said to be over 460,000 prisoners in Russia at present, meaning the country has the highest prisoner quota in Europe when converted to population. There are different types of prisons – from remand centers, education camps and penal colonies to maximum security prisons. And there are many reports of violence, abuse of power and corruption.

“A lasting impact” on relations with Russia

The federal government apparently has detailed information on the human rights situation in the Russian penal system. But these conclusions must not be made public, as the Federal Foreign Office announced on request. The ministry refused to release the relevant documents after the WDR had requested access to the file in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.

“The publication of the required documents would have adverse effects on Germany’s international relations and in particular on bilateral relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Russian Federation,” the ministry’s response reads.

Germans in prison in Russia

“Even in the current crisis”, continued the Federal Foreign Office, efforts are being made “to maintain diplomatic relations on certain key issues of diplomatic and consular relations (…)”. The aim is to “maintain a minimum of consular access options”. Therefore, said documents could not be made available, even in a redacted form.

The publication of the documents about prisons in Russia could be used by the Russian side “as a pretext to further restrict relations”, explained the Foreign Ministry. Especially with regard to the consular care of German citizens in Russian prisons. “This is all the more true as some of the documents contain judgment statements.”

According to information from the Federal Foreign Office, an average double-digit number of German nationals are currently detained in Russia. Some of these detainees receive consular care from German diplomats.

Transparency as a lever

The human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has for years denounced the use of force by the Russian police and collected information on the conditions and situation of detainees in the country’s prisons.

“Human Rights Watch calls on the State Department to provide information on the human rights situation in Russia and elsewhere,” said Wenzel Michalski, the organization’s spokesperson in Berlin. “Such transparency can be a powerful tool to pressure governments to end such abuses.”

Last year, activists from the Russian human rights organization gulagu.net published numerous video documents about Russian prisons. A former prisoner allegedly smuggled the material. It shows acts of torture, abuse and rape allegedly committed by prison staff and other inmates. After its revelation in October 2021, the Kremlin promised to verify the authenticity of the videos.

“The scale of torture, corruption, inhuman treatment and murder surpasses all,” said gulagu.net founder Vladimir Ossechkin, who now lives in exile in France and is wanted in Russia. “The world is now witnessing this mass crime.”

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Source www.tagesschau.de

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