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Russian prison warden, associates handed prison terms in torture case

Jail cells (Dreamstime/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

A court in the Siberian city of Irkutsk has sentenced a former prison warden and two of his associates to five years in prison each on an abuse-of-office charge in a high-profile torture case.

On February 9, the Sverdlov district court sentenced the former warden of the IK-6 penal colony, Aleksei Agapov, as well as Aleksandr Mednikov and Anton Yerokhin, after convicting them of involvement in beating, torturing, and raping an inmate with Central Asian roots, Tahirjon Bakiev, in January 2021.

Bakiev’s legal adviser, Natalya Yusupova, told RFE/RL that the court concluded that Agapov and his co-defendants were well aware that Bakiev was being tortured in a cell by specially trained inmates and did nothing to stop the crime.

Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) said in March 2021 that probes had also been launched against six inmates who allegedly tortured Bakiev, adding that it had yet to be confirmed that the incidents were motivated by ethnic reasons.

The trials of the six inmates in the case are pending.

Bakiev said he sustained severe injuries after he was raped with a mop handle and beaten by the inmates, who desecrated a Koran while he was lying on a cell floor bleeding. He was then kept under a cell bed for two days. The penitentiary’s administration then prevented him from sharing his ordeal with his wife Anastasia Bakieva and other relatives by not allowing him to call home for more than one month.

After the human rights group intervened, Bakiev was rushed to a civilian hospital where he had surgery. An investigation was subsequently launched into his torture.’s founder, Vasily Osechkin, told RFE/RL at the time that some of the inmates had confessed to beating and torturing other inmates and testified that they were doing so on the orders of guards.

Bakiev initially served his term at Correctional Colony No. 15 in the city of Angarsk in the Irkutsk region. In 2020, inmates of that penitentiary staged a large riot, after which many were transferred to other prisons in the region.

Human rights groups cited some of the inmates as saying that they faced beatings and torture after they were transferred to other prisons, where guards used other inmates who agreed “to cooperate” with the administration to force them to confess to organizing the riot.