What’s really going on in Russia’s toughest jails? A special investigation on tonight’s Dateline reveals that little has changed in since the days of Stalin’s notorious gulags.
What’s really going on in Russia’s toughest jails? A special investigation to be screened on tonight’s Dateline reveals that little has changed in the country’s notorious prisons since the days of Stalin’s gulags.
“It’s systematic, it goes on every day, 24 hours,” says former prisoner Daniil Abakumov about the violence and torture taking place behind the razor wire.
“They hang you from the bars with duct tape, strip you naked. They kick your legs apart, make you stretch. They put pencils under our feet so we couldn’t stand properly. It all happens in the sickbay of this building.”
Daniil spent three years inside Penal Colony Number Six in Chelyabinsk, and prisoners there recently staged a rooftop protest in freezing conditions against conditions inside.
While President Putin denies it’s happening, Dateline’s story reveals leaked videos of prisoners being beaten as soon as they enter the jails.
And there’s graphic testimony that harks back to the dark days of Stalin and concentration camps.
Human rights campaigners like Dina Latypova say extortion is also a huge problem, with claims that prison staff demand goods and money from inmates’ families to stop the beatings.
“It all adds up, they always demand more,” she says. “All their relatives end up giving all they earn to the institution to ensure their son or husband isn’t killed.”
Dateline’s report also meets some of the broken families, left paying a high price financially and emotionally for the protection of their loved ones behind bars.
It’s a look at a side of 21st Century Russia that the authorities don’t want us to see.
Watch the story tonight at 9.30pm on SBS ONE, and read more now on the Dateline website.