What happens to people in modern Russian prisons. Interview with Igor Kalapini
The end of October in Russia was marked by a strange coincidence of dates. 30 October — memory day of victims of political repression, is a symbol of what the GULAG, and October 31 — professional holiday of workers of jail and prison. It turns out paradox. Despite the fact that political repression is recognized and condemned, in contemporary Russia continues to remain the system, inherited traits of the Gulag. Will she one day become solely the correctional system, not a place where behind a high fence is booming, and the arbitrariness of sadism and jailers themselves become criminals? About it Znak.com talks with the Chairman of the interregional public organization “Committee against torture”, member of the Council under RF President on development of civil society and human rights Igor kalapini.
“The saddest thing that has not changed in all the years of reforms, is a subculture of the guards”
— In your opinion, what is the reason outdated the penitentiary system of Russia? It seems to be from the late ‘ 80s, this system began to open up, but something then went wrong. What?
— If in the early 90s, all government officials were set to what you need to learn to live and work in another, especially are attuned to the perception of some Western models to “zero” all of these processes stopped. I tend to associate with those that began to rise the price of hydrocarbons. And not so was important, how the economy works, how people live and so on. Appeared revanchist: we don’t need the West, have nothing to teach us, we have our own way, we ourselves with a mustache. It was a General trend that affected all spheres of life in Russia. That is true of prison.
Accordingly, remember the old Soviet experience that prisoners should not just be limited in freedom, but must suffer the pains.
The employees of the FSIN is the people who must enforce strict isolation of the prisoners from the outside world, and they do not have any human rights activists, observers, journalists and so on. What happened was a return to the old Gulag traditions.
— But there is a Council on human rights under the President, there are a lot of defenders your Committee. There is the Internet, where from time to time get the footage from prisons. As things stand now?
— Of all the power structures of the prison system has undergone changes the most. She really has greatly humanize. Although primarily it affected everyday aspect. If to compare conditions now and in the early ‘ 90s, are completely different things. What then was the norm, now you will not find even in some excess. That is, the conditions have improved radically.
With regard to the openness of the penitentiary system, it has become smaller. Although the FPS is still, if not open, the most willing to cooperate. Not to say that this service is designed so that there is not quite come. Something could tell, we manage to solve it. The same public oversight Commission, though in a distorted form, but still exist. Potential reforms in the FPS was high enough. And the last team, which was headed by Gennady Kornienko, has shown its effectiveness. Head of systems put people who previously no relation to the prison had. But, nevertheless, all these initiatives from year to year weaken, and gradually the prison system is again closed.
The saddest thing that has not changed in all the years of reforms, is a subculture that exists among supervisors. About the prison subculture of convicts know everything. And about the subculture of supervisors a few.
Almost all the personnel of the penitentiary system amazed. In my opinion, this subculture is almost impossible to fight. We all penitentiary institutions is a legacy of the Soviet system. They are all somewhere in the middle of nowhere, scattered through the forests, removed from the centers of civilization. Staff colonies are often the representatives of dynasties, that is, the subculture passed down from generation to generation in the families of prison guards. This creates the effect of isolation system, all of these employees live in your little world.
They all have their own ideas about how to carry this service. Often these views have no relationship to the law. To convince them is almost impossible. All the same applies to other regulatory services. They have there own Prosecutor for supervision, which often lives in the next village. He checks the same companies, everyone in the prison knows he, along with the warden goes hunting and fishing. It is clear that in such a situation, neither of which the efficiency of supervision of speech can not go. To replace someone also impossible, nobody wants to go to serve in the forest for 200 kilometers from the regional center and spend there most of my life. This makes the system almost unusable for reform.
Tortured in Russian prisons
— Any violation of the rights of prisoners and detainees often are prevalent?
— The convicted person may be deprived of transfer or date. These norms provided by the criminal Executive code. Another thing is that they are often applied unlawfully and arbitrarily. Just because some convict is something wrong told the citizen the chief.
Or here’s another. For example, a person can put in a punishment cell. And when he runs out of the maximum required 15 days, he can give a similar period, and then again. I know people in the colony who for months out of the penalty isolators. That is, in fact, a person unlawfully placed on the prison regime. In this case, this insulator can turn off heating to enhance the educational effect. Imagine if it is winter time. As soon as there comes some kind of test, all reduced.
Or you can make the camera uncomfortable stool. For example, 15 centimeters below. After an hour sitting on a person will begin to ache. And this is the only furniture there. It seems a trifle. But actually it brings real suffering. Instruments of torture in the prison can be made from anything.
If we talk about all sorts of sophisticated abuse, it is hanging on the bars. Or include mocking the music at full volume. If a prisoner for the thirtieth time at full volume listening to “Blue moon”, it is clear that nerves can pass, and people in hysterics. I’m not talking about the banal beatings that we saw in Yaroslavl when a man banged on the heels.
Another torture is the use of one convicted for the massacre of others. Can you give an example of the Orenburg region. There, the convict wrote a complaint that he and other convicts are normally not treated. And for that, as they say, have been omitted. At first it was for these complaints, and he could not stand, tried to escape. Then he came up with this execution. Deputy head of the colony led him into a punishment cell, where the so-called “activists” severely beat him and then done what was classified as a violent sexual acts. He supervised all this mess the head of the colony in the presence of about 15 members of the colony. The Deputy chief caught it on camera, then to show this record to other prisoners and thereby to hold them in “preventive” work: will ill behave, you will be the same. This happens quite often. And no Prosecutor is not detected. And no complaints that then these young fellows write, don’t lead to prosecutions, because there are all your.
— The guards find a justification for their illegal activities: it is a way to stop very high-handed prisoners. What people are tortured? Perhaps this persistent violators of prison rules?
— What sort of offences are they? For example, a person’s third time caught with unbuttoned the top button on the build. Maybe he forgot or so protests, but in any case for that there is a punishment prescribed by law. He can reprimand or be placed in a punishment cell for a few days. And it announced negatively adjusted and sent to a punishment cell for six months. Or have already given an example. Whether it was lawful to lower the person because he wrote a complaint that he received no treatment? No. I’m sure the jailers in this case are committing a more serious crime than the convict who has not fastened a button.
— What is the scale of torture in law enforcement and, in particular, in corrections?
— It is not amenable to statistics. A lot of complaints and do not become less. And, I take this opportunity to say that in recent times it has become customary to say that torture is primarily associated with the Federal penitentiary service. I can tell you that we get far more complaints about torture in police custody. There definitely are hitting more often. And this despite the fact that after beating the police people are turning less. Why? Because in the colony of a convict beaten in order to exact punishment or revenge, as, for example, Yaroslav the convicted employee called the dog and decided to teach. The police task is practical: they need to get a statement to get someone to confess to the crime. They cane system, and other way to execute the plan, no.
— Recently in the Network leaked video of torture of prisoners, then prosecute. How does this affect the change?
It’s a drop in the ocean, but she does help someone it’s terrifying, there are publications, some of the jailers punished. At least some pressure on the leadership of the Federal penitentiary service. I think if tomorrow we were able to learn about all the beatings, the unrestrained dormant in our society, even there would be some kind of explosion.
— In General, in your opinion, does the company have a sympathy to those who are sitting in prison? Maybe one of the reasons that the situation has not changed for decades, it’s the acceptance of violence in society? No wonder recently the majority of survey participants visit the state Duma in the social network made for the return of the death penalty. “The hunchback grave will correct” is a Russian proverb.
— People in Russia are generally quite cruel and hateful, you’re right. But this attitude is present as long as it’s not touched you or any of your loved ones. As soon as the personal story, the attitude changed immediately. People are starting to remember that we have a consequence of work badly, too often, judicial error, and no acquittals. We have a man’s fate often determines some police Sergeant, to whom you casually got under a hand. And no the investigator to deal with you will not and you will not justify. And those who yesterday called for a return of the death penalty, are beginning to say that we have no good investigative system. So empathy in Russian society is really lacking, but it changes the case.
— What would you say about the rank and file employees of the FSIN, it is, generally, normal people, or there is a kind of professional deformation?
— Professional deformation in such a system inevitable, in spite of individual cases. And it’s not just professional deformation and professional household. A person who works in the colony, and he lives in the colony. Where the colony near the village where I live the jailers and their families. And in this environment people constantly brewed. 24 hours it feels overseer.
There are those who go there because there are no repercussions to exercise their sadistic tendencies.
Would a normal person can come up with a variety of torture? For example, “music box”, which we have seen in Chelyabinsk. To put it car speaker box, the box itself is worn on a man’s head and turn on full volume to music or siren. And he convicted at that time attached to the battery. All this has nothing to do with the law, nor to the desire to punish the impudent prisoner. This is pure sadism.
But there are examples of prison staff themselves imprisoned for various crimes. Isn’t it able to stop their colleagues?
— No, the jailers make it very different conclusions. Here he is caught, so be careful anyone not to speak too much, do not show all hide not to get caught himself. But to change themselves and the environment none of the Fsinovtsy not going to. So, all you need to do in order to prison seldom visited by human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and so on. And then let’s face it: what most often put the jailers? Not for violating the rights of prisoners, and corruption. For the torture and inhumane treatment of the guards put extremely rare. Now sitting in jail about a million people and the same number of jailers. And what do we know about this world, and how often about him writing something? Yes, almost anything.
— What would you suggest for the modernization of the penitentiary system in Russia?
— In General, the desired targeted material and financial reform, which will be 20-30 years. Fear that with the departure Kornienko we do all sorts of changes in the prison system disappear, all efforts will be aimed only to avoid scandals and no one knew anything. In this case we have good legislation, but it is not systematically executed. So I would suggest to strengthen public control over the system, how the jailers follow the law. If our wonderful Public monitoring Committee didn’t rot, not trying to replace human rights defenders all sorts of wonderful veterans of the Napoleonic wars who come to the colony to drink tea with the chief, public control would gradually lead to the procedure this system. We have the Prosecutor’s office immediately began to work well. If the Prosecutor did not reveal any violations in the testing, and three days later was followed by UPC and found violations, he did not remain as soon as to recognize them. We have a huge army of officials, which should expose all these violations, but they are actually engaged in their concealment. Now, in my opinion, public oversight and fold, because the screws are not impossible to negotiate with social activists. And with his Prosecutor — is another matter.
— In your opinion, must be employees of the Federal penitentiary service on October 31?
— Maybe there is a separate bona fide employees of the FSIN. But overall, nothing to celebrate. The system is in distress. The FPS is clearly not the institution that can be proud of the Russian state and society.
“We need to intimidate the population, discourage him unwilling to Express their views”
— 30 Oct in Russia — day of memory of victims of political repression. How justified to call the current administrative and criminal cases against protesting and writing against the government, “political repression”? Moreover, the President of Russia once said: “Now is not the 37th year that I want, I say, especially on the Internet, “black funnels” for you tomorrow won’t come. Why hide?” Is it really so bad?
Is certainly political repression. Of course, while this is not the scale that was in Stalin’s time. The purpose of this repression is slightly different from the period of the “great terror”. Then was also the economic problem: need someone to work on the great construction projects, so needed an army of slaves.
Now an army of slaves is not necessary, but you need to intimidate the population, discourage him unwilling to Express their opinions.
There is another important feature. These repressions are completely random. If you went to a protest rally, it is not necessarily something to shout or to resist a police officer. Repression today are in the nature of roulette — you just got unlucky and now you in the paddy wagon and can get a real term of imprisonment. A random sample intimidates a large number of people.
— I remember in 2017 the day of the opening of the monument to victims of political repression — the “Wall of sorrow” — Lyudmila Alekseeva, referring to Putin, said: “Enough for any bans! We have already banned more than you need, in order to be able to breathe freely. And don’t need to have had to flee their country. It is necessary to change the attitude of the authorities to the citizens. We need to convince, not to intimidate”. Alexeyeva is already there, what repression, what has changed during this time?
In my opinion, since then the situation has become worse. Bad bans became more. It is rather demonstrative bans, to be able to handle. We, human rights defenders, have been unable to reverse this trend.
— Then the conclusion is that the Council on human rights — a decorative body, if the situation only gets worse. Is it really so?
In a sense it is. But at least the HRC generates lots of different signals which definitely irritate the government and exert pressure on it. I agree with the fact that not all of our recommendations are implemented. But someone of the officials from the HRC for the last time, got much, and they are not happy with our work. But with all the disadvantages of this body, there are a significant plus: we from time to time have the opportunity to ask uncomfortable questions to the President. And he was forced to these questions publicly answered. And in addition to meetings with the President, we met periodically with heads of departments in the regions, have the opportunity there to say something.
— How do you assess the figure of the new head of the HRC Valery Fadeev?
— I don’t know. But what he said about the priority of certain social rights to the detriment of political rights and freedoms, is alarming. If HRC is going to change the content of your work, according to this setting, this will do no good. I, at least, will do what I’m doing now. In the composition of the HRC or outside of it as head of the Committee against torture.
— In General, you feel comfortable to work in this system?
— Most people who work in the HRC, these are my associates. Including those who had to leave the HRC is Fedotov, Shulman and Morshchakova. They are really engaged in human rights advocacy, saying things unpleasant to many officials. But I was comfortable with them. This does not mean that with their departure, the HRC came to an end, as they say in some media. The remaining members of the HRC dignified. We will continue to work.
As for power, it is, of course, the unpleasant profession of human rights defender. She forced us to endure. Surely the representatives of the FSIN would prefer me not to see at meetings in the President’s administration. It is possible that they will try to squeeze me out of the SPCH. It’s nice if the President listen to me? Surely it is sometimes unpleasant. Mikhail Alexandrovich Fedotov sometimes sometimes even had to restrain my impulse. But that does not mean you have to retreat. The problem of violations of prisoners ‘ rights deeply rooted in our system and someone should seriously do it.