Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired director Alexander Kalashnikov of the Russian prison service FSIN. The Kremlin reports this in a statement on Thursday short statement. The resignation comes a few weeks after shocking video images emerged of torture and rape in a Russian prison.
Kalashnikov will be replaced by senior police officer Arkady Gostev, who is also the deputy interior minister, according to the presidential decree published on the Kremlin’s website. According to the group Gulagu.net (“No to Gulag”), which stands up for Russian prisoners and published the videos in early October, Kalashnikov was fired mainly because he was unable to keep secret the torture practices often used in Russian prisons. Ivan Zhdanov, an associate of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is imprisoned in a penal camp, endorses that reading. He writes on Twitter that the prison director had to give way “not because of the system of torture in the colonies, but this system has become publicly known.”
Also read: Russia investigates prisoner abuse after videos leaked
The images came out through whistleblower ex-convict Sergei Saveleev, who was allegedly abused and later deployed as a computer expert in the prison in the Saratov region, more than 800 kilometers southeast of Moscow. Thanks to Saveleev, “hundreds of millions of people around the world have seen the horrific images of brutal torture and rape,” writes Gulagu Thursday on their website.
The Russian authorities reacted immediately to the revelations last month. The now sacked FSIN chief Kalashnikov immediately sent an investigation team to Saratov and that same evening four executives in the prison had lost their jobs. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov also warned of “serious consequences” if the images turned out to be authentic. A day later, seven criminal cases were opened for sexual violence and abuse of power.
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