The portal GULAGU.Net (“No to the GULAG” – a volunteer project against corruption and torture in Russia) has obtained 40 gigabytes of Russian penal system video archives documenting Penal Service and FSB agents torturing and raping prisoners. The Russian authorities have responded by launching investigations and bringing charges against the officers, and also by carrying out denial of service attacks against the site.
The organization gained access to these materials as the result of the work of a former prisoner who managed to penetrate the computer system of the Federal Penal Service in Saratov Oblast where the archive was kept, a sign that the authorities themselves filmed these events and thus knew about them for some time.
GULAGU.Net is issuing the materials in stages. Last month it put out five photographs showing torture and rape. Earlier this month it published videos of rapes of three prisoners in a prison hospital filmed using jailers’ body cameras. More material is set to be released over the coming days and weeks.
Not surprisingly, the pictures available so far have sparked outrage. And even Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that the situation must be investigated and those involved brought to justice if what the pictures appear to show proves to be the case. Some investigations have been launched and several cases opened.
But there are already indications that the powers that be are closing ranks to protect the guilty. A member of the public oversight commission in Saratov says that no one in the prison hospital where the attacks allegedly occurred ever complained to members of his group, raising questions as to the accuracy of the films.
And activists at the GULAGU.Net portal say that as soon as they released the documents, their site began to be subjected to denial of service attacks, something clearly intended to reduce the number of people who can visit and view this latest documentation of abuse of prisoners by the jailers and the FSB.
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