11:56 Nov. 2, 2016
Ildar Dadin claims he is severely beaten, threatened with rape and death in notorious Karelia prison
Russian opposition activist Ildar Dadin, jailed under the Kremlin's controversial anti-protest law, accuses prison guards of systematic torture and threats to kill him.
In a letter to his wife, dictated by Dadin to his lawyer, the dissident pleads to save him from ‘'hell" by making the information public.
In the letter, Dadin makes a harrowing account of mass beatings, torture, humiliations, threats to rape, kill and secretly bury him.
Dadin wrote that after his arrival at the notorious IK-7 prison in the Russia's northwestern town of Segezha, prison authorities immediately took away his soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, and toilet paper, prompting him to declare a hunger strike.
On the second day of his detention, the prison governor along with three other employees came to his cell and began beating him.
"Over the course of the day, they beat me up four times, with 10-12 people kicking me simultaneously. After the third beating they put my head in the toilet in the punishment cell," he wrote.
The next day prison guards bound Dadin's hands behind his back, hung him from handcuffs and left him hanging for 30 minutes, he wrote. "Then they took off my underwear and said that now they'll bring another prisoner and that he'll rape me if I don't stop my hunger strike."
"After that, I was brought to Kossiev's [prison governor's] office, where he said to me in the presence of other staff: "You have been beaten very little. If I give the order, you will be beaten much worse. If you try to complain, they will kill you and bury you under the fence." After that, they beat me regularly, several times a day.
"Regular beatings, bullying, humiliation, insults, intolerable detention conditions – this is happening with the other prisoners, as well," he wrote.
The full letter transcribed by Dadin's lawyer and translated from Russian by Meduza.io can be found here
The desperate letter sent shockwaves across the human rights community.
Amnesty International called on Russian authorities to immediately release Ildar Dadin, a peaceful street protester convicted for participation in "unauthorized" assemblies.
"Ildar Dadin's allegations of beatings, humiliation, and rape threats are shocking, but unfortunately they are just the latest in a string of credible reports indicating that torture and other ill-treatment are being widely used in the Russian penal system with impunity, with the aim of silencing any form of dissent," Sergei Nikitin, director of Amnesty International Russia, said in a statement.
The federal Investigative Committee said that it was conducting a "preinvestigation check" and that prosecutors had been sent to the prison to look into the allegations.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday that President Vladimir Putin would be informed of the allegations.
Penal authorities in Karelia have reportedly confirmed the use of force against the activist, Russian Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported. The officials gave their account of one of the incidents.
"Dadin rudely refused to leave his cell, to assume the position for inspection, and he started to grab the guards by their uniforms, as a result of which force and special measures were used against him," the statement read, according to Novaya Gazeta.
The law under which Dadin was sentenced to two and a half years in prison was signed by Russia's President Vladimir Putin after a wave of anti-Kremlin protests.
The legislation criminalizes anyone participating in more than two unauthorized rallies within 180 days. Dadin became the first person imprisoned under the controversial measure approved in 2014.
Ildar Dadin is known for his solo protests against Kremlin policies, including annexation of Crimea, Russia's war in eastern Ukraine and imprisonment of Nadiya Savchenko and other political prisoners.
In early 2014 he actively supported and participated in Ukraine's Euromaidan revolution that ousted pro-Russian president Victor Yanukovych.