In March 2011, Lt. Colonel Vyacheslav Tippel, former head of the prison department for the St. Petersburg region in Russia, received a seven-year sentence for ordering the rape and torture of a prisoner. Six other prison officials with the Federal Service for the Execution of Punishment (FSIN) received sentences between four and six-and-a-half years for their involvement in that and an unrelated, similar incident.
In February 2009, a prisoner serving time for petty theft got drunk and failed to return from furlough. Located hundreds of miles away in Vladimir, he was returned to St. Petersburg and placed in the Gaaz prison hospital.
Tippel sent FSIN Colonel Rostislav Balabolko, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Beryozkin and Major Vladimir Ignatyev to the hospital to “commit physical and psychological violence as a punishment for escaping.” They handcuffed, beat and wrote obscenities on the prisoner’s chest.
Balobolko also threatened two other prisoners into raping the returned escapee. Then the three high-ranking prison officials beat him some more.
Separately, FSIN Major Yevgeny Petrov was sentenced to six years in prison for raping a prisoner he was trying to force to cooperate with authorities, and for ordering three other prisoners to sexually assault the victim. That incident, in which the victim was anally raped with what appeared to be a mop handle, was video-recorded. Lieutenant Colonel Andrei Gavrilov and his deputy, Major Alexander Khachikyan, were also charged and convicted in connection with that case.
The prisoners who were coerced or threatened into sexually assaulting the two victims were all acquitted. One of the victims, the escapee, later reportedly committed suicide by cutting his throat.
Human rights organizations in Russia, including the Foundation for the Protection of Prisoners’ Rights and the For Human Rights movement, noted that rapes and beatings are commonly used in Russian prisons as a means of control.
Sources: BBC News, St. Petersburg Times
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