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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                    

Russian Federation (Russia)

Use of excessive force by police is widespread, and rights groups have reported that law enforcement agents who carry out such abuses have deliberately employed electric shocks, suffocation, and the stretching of a detainee’s body so as to avoid leaving visible injuries.  [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Russia. 

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Russia.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

*** ARCHIVES ***

Inmate's Gruesome Account Of Torture Adds To Evidence Of Rampant Abuse In Russian Prisons

Idel.Realities, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, 28 December 2021

[accessed 28 December 2021]

The claims by Marsel Amirov, who is serving a 14-year sentence on a murder conviction, were the latest in a series of revelations and allegations pointing to widespread abuse of inmates in Russia's sprawling prison system.

He told one member that he had been tortured: He said that his head was pushed repeatedly into a bucket of human excrement and that he had been beaten, strangled, and raped with a mop handle, according to a written statement he provided later to his lawyer.

But little has been done in the way of reform, and prison guards and officials are rarely punished or prosecuted. At his annual press conference last week, President Vladimir Putin said prison torture is a “world problem” and suggested without evidence that it is no worse in Russia than in the United States or France.

'I Was Always Afraid Of Getting Caught': Former Inmate Who Leaked Russian Prison-Torture Videos Speaks Out

Sergei Khazov-Cassia, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, 22 October 2021

[accessed 23 October 2021]

А former Russian inmate who leaked a massive cache of videos showing evidence of rampant torture in Russian prisons said he believes prison guards were prone to using sexual assault against their victims “because it is the cruelest.”

The videos, secretly obtained by Syarhey Savelyeu and then leaked to and published by a Russian rights group, have shone a brutal spotlight on the widespread problem of torture in Russian jails and prisons, which has been largely ignored by authorities.

Speaking to RFE/RL from France, where he is seeking political asylum, Savelyeu, a 31-year-old native of Belarus, said that he himself was abused by security agents in custody, though not while he was serving his sentence in a facility in the central Saratov region.

In one of several videos that have made public, a male prisoner can be seen screaming while being raped with a broomstick. Other clips showed prisoners urinating on other inmates, as well as graphic images of rape.

'People Would Scream For Hours': Former Inmates Shed Light On Recent Russian Torture Revelations

Sania Yusupova & Robert Coalson, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, 17 October 2021

[accessed 18 October 2021]

Earlier this month, the nongovernmental -- which tracks human rights abuses by Russian police and in Russian prisons -- disclosed the existence of more than 40 gigabytes of video material graphically documenting beatings, rape, and torture of inmates in prisons and pretrial detention centers.

"At the request of prosecutors, detainees who refused to 'cooperate' with investigators were sent to us," Golikov said in his video statement. “We were forced to 'work' with them so they would give the 'necessary' testimony that investigators wanted.

"After the rapes, the prisoners were forced to sign false confessions, self-incriminations, and also to 'cooperate' further with investigators -- that is, to give false testimony not only against themselves but against other prisoners, too. They were blackmailed by the fact that their abuse was recorded, and they threatened to release that material."

European Court Orders Russia To Pay Almost $2.4 Million To Relatives Of People Missing In Chechnya

RFE/RL's Russian Service, RadioFreeEurope-Radio Liberty, 22 June 2021

[accessed 22 June 2021]

The ECHR ruled on June 22 that Russia violated several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to life, when, according to witnesses, the military unit in question killed an elderly man in the town of Borozdinovskaya in Chechnya in October 2005 and abducted 11 local residents, mainly ethnic Avars, whose whereabouts have been unknown since then.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Russia

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 5 August 2021]


There were reports of disappearances perpetrated by or on behalf of government authorities. Enforced disappearances for both political and financial reasons continued in the North Caucasus. According to the August report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, there were 867 outstanding cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances in the country

On October 20, the human rights group Memorial reported that five men were abducted from the village of Chechen-Aul on August 28, and two more were abducted on August 30. Memorial stated that all seven men were taken to the city of Argun, where they were visited by the Chechen interior minister Ruslan Alkhanov and Chechen deputy prime minister Abuzaid Vismuradov before being transferred to a secret prison, where they were interrogated and tortured. Four of the men were later released (two on September 18 and two on October 7), while three reportedly remained in government detention facilities as of December. Memorial reported that 13 men were abducted on November 5 from the Chechen city of Gudermes and taken to a secret prison, where Memorial believed they remained as of December.

There were reports Russian-led forces and Russian occupation authorities in Ukraine engaged in enforced disappearances (see Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Ukraine).


Physical abuse of suspects by police officers was reportedly systemic and usually occurred within the first few days of arrest in pretrial detention facilities. Reports from human rights groups and former police officers indicated that police most often used electric shocks, suffocation, and stretching or applying pressure to joints and ligaments because those methods were considered less likely to leave visible marks. The problem was especially acute in the North Caucasus. According to the Civic Assistance Committee, prisoners in the North Caucasus complained of mistreatment, unreasonable punishment, religious and ethnic harassment, and inadequate provision of medical care.

There were reports of rape and sexual abuse by government agents. For example, media reported on Mukhtar Aliyev’s account of his five years in IK-7 prison in Omsk region from 2015 until his release during the year, where he was subjected to torture, including sexual assault. Aliyev told media that prison officials would beat him, tie him to the bars for a prolonged length of time causing his legs and arms to swell up, and force other inmates to assault him sexually while recording their actions. Aliyev said that the officials threatened to leak the recording to other inmates and officials if he did not behave.

Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on the Russian Federation

Executive Summary, 24 September 2019

[accessed 1 June 2020]

At Kazan Federal Hospital, the delegation noted with grave concern that electroconvulsive therapy(ECT)  was  being  administered  to  patients  on  some  wards  in  unmodified  form,  i.e. without an anaesthetic and muscle relaxants. In the CPT’s view, the administration of ECT in unmodified form can raise issues under Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Regarding means of restraint, the mechanical restraint of patients using canvas straps was practiced in all hospitals visited.  However, to differing degrees, international guidelines  regarding  such measures were not being followed in any of the four establishments. It was particularly concerning to  note  that  at  Kazan  Federal  Hospital  patients  could  be  subjected  to  four-point  fixation  alone  in isolation rooms for many days without any release; various patients who had been subjected to such lengthy  measures  told  the  CPT  delegation  that  they  had  refused  to  be  fed  as  they  found  it  too challenging to defecate into a bedpan while being fixed horizontally. Patients explained that after a few  days  of  not  being  able  to  defecate,  their  abdomens  would  swell  and  become  very  painful. Furthermore, one younger male patient who told the delegation he had recently been restrained for a week was found to have a number of bed sores on his sacral area.

Seclusion was used in the two federal hospitals visited by the CPT. On the intensive care wards of both  hospitals,  patients  were  sometimes  spending  months  or  even  years  alone  in  very  small  bare rooms as narrow as 1.1 m, with almost no daylight and artificial lighting switched on for 24 hours a day. At Kazan Federal Hospital, patients in seclusion had no access to a toilet (having instead to use a  bucket  placed  in  the  corner  of  the  room);  at  Volgograd  Federal  Hospital,  there was  a  small unscreened floor-level toilet in the corner of the room near the barred gate door. In addition to having no or almost no access to outdoor exercise and to being prevented from any physical exercise inside the rooms, some patients in both hospitals were not even given a toothbrush or a spoon (obliging them to eat with their hands) for months or even years. In the CPT’s view, such conditions do not befit a health-care institution and amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Use of excessive force by police is widespread, and rights groups have reported that law enforcement agents who carry out such abuses have deliberately employed electric shocks, suffocation, and the stretching of a detainee’s body so as to avoid leaving visible injuries. Prisons are overcrowded and unsanitary; inmates lack access to health care and are subject to abuse by guards. In August 2018, Novaya Gazeta posted videos of guards engaging in organized beatings of prisoners in Yaroslavl. The authorities arrested at least 12 guards at the prison after a public outcry, but the NGO Public Verdict reported systematic abuse at another prison in the region in December. In July 2019, Public Verdict released another video showing continued abuse at Yaroslavl.

Abductions, Torture, 'Hybrid Deportation': Crimean Tatar Activist Describes Six Years Under Russian Rule

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, 17 March 2020

[accessed 7 April 2020]

But the first blow aimed specifically at the Crimean Tatars came on March 3, when Reshat Ametov held a one-person protest. Later he was found mutilated. A person who did nothing but express his opinion was found dead, brutally murdered. Of course, that frightened everyone and they understood that this would not be over in a day, a week, or a month. We began to see that cases of abduction and torture were not exceptions. We saw people disappear without a trace. For instance, [Chairman of the World Congress of Crimean Tatars] Ervin Ibrahimov. Or the son and nephew of human rights activist Abdureshit Dzhepparov. Crimea was transformed into a gray zone because almost no independent journalists remained.

Disturbing New Stories Emerge of LGBTQ+ Torture in Chechnya

Mathew Rodriguez, Out Magazine, 8 May 2019

[accessed 8 May 2019]

Four gay men have stepped forward to talk about a new round of detentions and beatings of gay and bisexual men, according to the Human Rights Watch. The detentions and assaults happened between December 2018 and February 2019. According to the men, Chechen police kicked them with their boots, beat them with sticks and pipes, and tortured three of them with electric shocks. One man said he was raped with a stick.

The men said that police demanded they name other gay friends of theirs and withheld their cell phones for that purpose. One man indicated that officials outed him to his family and told them to kill him. In three of the four cases, police asked for money in exchange for the gay man’s release. All four said that officials starved them and gave them only limited amounts of water.

Unlawful arrest and torture ‘standard practice’ in Chechnya

Isabel Gorst, Irish times, Moscow, 21 December 2018

[accessed 23 December 2018]

A fact-finding report by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said arbitrary and unlawful arrest and detention, harassment and torture as well as enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions had increasingly become “standard practice” for Chechen law enforcement and security agencies.

Russian prison torture victim 'brought back to life four times'

Diana Magnay, Moscow correspondent, Sky News, 9 December 2018

[accessed 9 December 2018]

Thirteen of the guards now sit behind bars awaiting trial. Another is under house arrest. Mr Makarov points out their windows. "I hope, I deeply hope that these sadists are punished," he says.

Mr Makarov's lawyer, Irina Biryukova, from the human rights group Public Verdict, had been busy long before the video came out.

She had complained to prison authorities that Mr Makarov and others were being beaten. She had brought their case to the European Court of Human Rights which had ordered authorities to look into it.

The video was leaked one year later. Only then was there a response.

It's thrown the spotlight on a culture of torture and abuse in Russia's jails. Ms Biryukova says the publicity from the video has emboldened others to speak out.

Gay man refused justice after torture in Chechnya concentration camp

Joe Morgan, Gay Star News, 27 November 2018

[accessed 23 December 2018]

LIFE IN A CHECHNYA CONCENTRATION CAMP -- Police interrogated and tortured him to name other gay men, he says.

‘They burst in every 10 or 15 minutes shouting that I was gay and they would kill me,’ he also said.

‘Then they beat me with a stick for a long time: in the legs, ribs, buttocks, and back. When I started to fall, they pulled me up and carried on.

‘Every day they assured me they would kill me, and told me how.’

Lapunov hoped the government, and police, would investigate. He said it must happen ‘because we are all people and all have rights’.

He is the only person who suffered in the concentration camps that has dared to speak publicly about his experience.

Ministry of Internal Affairs apologizes to residents of Orenburg for tortures in department 10 years later

Crime Russia, 18 September 2018

[accessed 21 September 2018]

On August 25, 2008, Vyacheslav Sadovsky, Maxim Nimatov and Anton Ferapontov were taken to the Dzerzhinsky Regional MIA Department in Orenburg. They said that for a day they were severely tortured in order to obtain confessions in several cases.

As the detainees told, the pol were put on gas masks and put smoke from cigarettes into the breathing hose. In addition, they were strangled and beaten with clubs.

According to the detainees, the policemen would put gas masks on them and blow cigarette smoke into the breathing hose. Apart from that, they were strangled and beaten with batons.

New Videos Reveal More Evidence Of Torture At Russian Prison

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, 24 August 2018

[accessed 25 August 2018]

The guards are seen standing in rows on both sides of a corridor talking about the necessity to "punish" prisoners. Several inmates are then forced to run between them while the guards kick them and beat them with their fists and batons.

A group of inmates is then forced to return and run the gauntlet again. Among the people beating them is a man wearing a blue T-shirt and gloves instead of a prison guard's uniform. His face is briefly shown.

A voice can be heard addressing the man as "Sardor," and saying: "Be tougher with these ones. Switch off the recording, OK? Switch off the recording."

A torture scandal makes Russia pay attention

Tanya Lokshina, Open Democracy - oD Russia, 16 August 2018

[accessed 16 August 2018]

But Makarov’s case isn’t unique by far. To illustrate that torture is widespread in Russia, Meduza, a leading online media outlet, pulled together data on more than 50 other torture cases reported in the public domain in 2018. The alleged torturers include police officials, investigators, security agents, and penitentiary officials. The alleged methods of torture include beating, asphyxiation, electric shocks, restraining in painful positions, sleep deprivation, denial of water and so on. Only a few criminal cases were opened into these incidents, and only one of them has been moved to trial.

Ex-prisoners speak out over torture after leaked video

South China Morning Post, 3 August, 2018

[accessed 5 August 2018]

Zarechnev spoke about the eight years of hell that he endured in a prison colony, during which he was subjected to daily beatings and witnessed gang rape, after being found guilty of violent robbery as a 22-year-old in 2010.

Freed just a month ago, the former DJ served his sentence in the IK-14 colony near Nizhny Novgorod, 400km east of Moscow, dubbed “the camp of torture” by local NGOs.

“As a new arrival, I was beaten every day by the ‘activists’,” Zarechnev said, referring to prisoners who collaborate with the camp’s administration.

“There is a political will inside the prison system to get rid of the Gulag, but it will be difficult to convince their 400,000 employees working in remote forests” to change their practices, he said.   A sense of impunity still reigns at the heart of the Russian prison system, as seen in the reactions to the video.

Shocking Video Prompts Mass Torture Crackdown in Russian Prisons

Vasily Kuzmichyonok, TASS, 24 July 2018

[accessed 24 July 2018]

Russia’s prison watchdog has announced plans to launch a nationwide inspection of correctional facilities following public outrage over a leaked video of a prisoner being tortured.

Public officials in Yaroslavl have come under fire for failing to investigate a torture case dating back to 2017 before footage of the incident was published in the media last week. Seventeen prison guards have since been fired and six arrested on charges of abuse of power. In a separate case on Tuesday, investigators in the western city of Bryansk said they had detained a guard on suspicion of torturing an inmate to death.

The Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) said Tuesday that it will set up inquiry boards in all of its regional branches to investigate the use of physical force by employees in the past year.

Crimea. Territory of torture

Iryna Shevchenko, Reuters, 14 June 2018

[accessed 17 June 2018]

After that, together with his father and two brothers, he was taken to an unknown location, bags over their heads. There the family was divided: his brothers and father were left in one room, while Ibrahimjon was taken to another. He was tied to a chair, his legs and hands tied up with scotch tape, and then he was once again brutally beaten. The first blows were to his chest and head, and then beating continued for several hours. Along with physical abuse, he was bombarded with questions like where do you go, who are your contacts, whom do you know… Moreover, they tried to establish his alleged links with the "Islamic State" and the war in ... Syria. "They asked me when I went to Syria and fought for ISIS? I told them that I did not go anywhere, that I never left Crimea. But they told me I was lying," says the victim.

FSB operatives did not stop at the beating. The man was further intimidated and blackmailed. They told him they would rape his wife and send his children to an orphanage. They put a bag on his heads and strangled him, demanding to confess to extremism. They dragged them across the floor and tazed him six or seven times... "They took off my jeans and underwear, put me on the floor, tied my hands around my feet. They stuck something into me from behind and connected something, stuffed a rag into my mouth. They turned on some kind of machine and I was hit with electricity, I felt like I was burning inside... " the man tells us without looking up. Torture lasted for hours. After all the abuse, one of the kidnappers told Mirpochchaev he should be grateful to his brother for stopping the torture. Ibrahimjon was photographed, fingerprinted, and then moved to another room with a bag on his head. Then he found himself out in the street, where next to him he heard voices of his brothers and father. Then Mirpochchaev heard his second brother crying out: "They'll let you go, but they'll take me with them." And so it happened.

Ingushetia police officers facing torture charges plead not guilty

Crime Russia, 19 May 2018

[accessed 23 May 2018]

The defendants have been torturing arrestees since at least 2010, according to investigators. The earlier such case documented in the case file dates back to this year. Arrestee Magomed Doliev died of torture in the Ingush ‘E’ Center in the summer of 2016. Doliev was suspected of having robbed a Rosselkhozbank outlet. The same defendants tortured Doliev’s wife Marem. They would put her head in a plastic bag, tie it with something, and punch her in the face. However, Khamkhoev and his subordinates were arrested only in December 2016.

Russia’s Antifa Is Being Tortured and Detained by Putin’s Shadowy Security Service, Sources Say

Cristina Maza, Newsweek, 6 April 2018

[accessed 15 April 2018]

During the following three-and-a-half hours, Kapustin claims the men tortured him with an electrical cattle prod while questioning him about an acquaintance from work.  

“I was thrown into the minibus, put on the floor and handcuffed with my arms behind my back,” Kapustin described to Newsweek from the safety of neighboring Finland, where he is now living. “Then the car started, and the entire time the car was moving I was tortured with an electric shocker. They demanded answers to their questions while one of them stood on my feet, pressing them to the floor, and a second man used the electrical shocker on my abdomen, hips and groin.”

After torturing him, Kapustin claims his captors brought him to the FSB’s office for questioning and then later to his house, which the police searched. He didn’t see the faces of the men who tortured him, but he said the men who beat him and electrocuted him in the van were the same people who questioned him at the police station. In the FSB's office, the officers threatened to break his legs and kill him. But he was released soon after without being charged.

Kapustin says he was tortured because of his friendship with young, anti-fascist anarchists in Russia, and because of his own history of activism.

Anapa police dept investigators refused to initiate case about tortures

Crime Russia, 07 November 2017

[accessed 9 November 2017]

Artem was detained in December 2015 on suspicion of a robbery attack on a sales representative, who supplied tobacco products to a self-employed individual Arustamyan.

“[After putting a gas mask, they began to] inflict blows all over my body, saying that I should repent, and then they will stop beating me. But I had nothing to repent of, since I did not commit the alleged crime. Then one of the police officer took some metal object and began to strike multiple blows to my feet. At the same time, there was loud music playing in the office. I can’t recall what it was, I think it was radio playing. There was a persistent smell of alcohol; I sensed it when they removed the bag off of my head. They said “the sooner you tell the truth, the sooner it will stop.” I said I didn’t know anything, so they began to beat me with their feet, jump on my back with their knees, and beat my feet with a stick. When it dawned on them that I wouldn’t say anything, they said “now it’s time for the lie detector.” At first, I was relieved, but then I realized it was not what I thought,” Ponomarchuk said.

Instead of the lie detector, they began to electrocute the detainee. The terminals were attached to the whole body, causing a terrible pain. But this was not enough for the policemen. After the electric shock torture, law enforcers wrapped a rubber baton with scotch tape, smeared with gel, and inserted him into the anus. The pain was so strong that the young man lost consciousness. When he woke up, he had no other choice but to confess to the crime and sign all the necessary documents. At the suggestion of the operatives, he signed a protocol on administrative violation — allegedly, the man had been walking along the street and refused to show documents to police officers who stopped him (Disobedience to the lawful order of an employee, Art. 19.3 of the Russian Code of Administrative Offences). After that, he was transferred to a cell for administratively detained persons.

Nizhnekamsk: 3 policemen detained after young man killed himself due to torture

Crime Russia, 02 November 2017

[accessed 3 November 2017]

The police officers are accused of the torture of 22-year-old Nizhnekamsk resident Ilnaz Pirkin, after which he threw himself off the roof of a high-rise building on the city’s outskirts.

Before his death, the young man called his girlfriend and parents, asking them to find his phone. Pirkin used it to record his suicide message, in which he said that the police forced him to confess to a series of car batteries thefts. According to him, on the night of October 19, the police officers apprehended him outside of his parents' house, took him to the woods, and beat him. After this, the young man was taken to the police department, where he was tortured; the officers used the ‘elephant’ method, when a gas mask is put on the victim, blocking the air.

On the video, Pirkin says that he wants to “achieve justice” with his action and prevent anything like this from happening in the future:

How to hide evidence of torture inside Russia’s prison system

Anastasia Zotova, openDemocracy, 17 October 2017

[accessed 26 October 2017]

One recent example of this took place in the Bryansk region. In July 2017, we received a collective letter from several dozen inmates of Colony IK-1, stating that they had been subjected to physical abuse by prison staff. Some of them, we were told, were forced to do the splits, and had paper bags put on their heads and their mouths taped up. All this is, not surprisingly, illegal. Here’s an excerpt from one of the prisoners’ letters:

 “They made us stand with our faces to the wall and started hitting us on our bodies and legs. They formed two lines and ordered us to run between them to the toilet block, with our arms behind our backs and our heads bent. Then they beat us as we ran. When we got to the toilets, they shaved us — our heads, our beards. I’m bald, so they shaved off my eyebrows. After the shaving, we had to run back. Then they brought a bucket of water in and made us wash the floor with our clothes, and after that the stood us against the wall and started beating us on the legs again.”

We immediately attempted to send lawyers into this prison, but none of them were allowed near the prisoners for more than two weeks. (This is absolutely against Russian law.) And when they were eventually let in, many of the complainants refused to testify about the torture. Only six men (out of more than 50 initial complainants) made statements about the illegal physical abuse they had suffered.

Gay Russian speaks out on police torture in Chechnya

Olga Rotenberg, Agence France-Presse AFP, 16 October 2017

[accessed 26 October 2017]

[accessed 13 January 2019]

Lapunov described being thrown into a cell drenched in blood.

"The cell was around two by two metres and about a quarter of the floor was just covered in blood -- it was quite fresh blood," he said.   He believed he would be killed.   "Based on their words and their actions, I thought that after a certain time they would kill me in any case."

Hours after his detention, police began beating him.   "They started beating me with sticks. I don't know how long it took but a very long time," he said.   "They hit me on the calves, they put my face to a wall and beat me on the legs, thighs, buttocks and back, until I started to fall."

Lapunov gave a news conference at Novaya Gazeta, an opposition newspaper which first reported that Chechen authorities were imprisoning and torturing gay men.

“They Have Long Arms and They Can Find Me” -- Anti-Gay Purge by Local Authorities in Russia’s Chechen Republic

Nataliya Vasilyeva, Human Rights Watch, 26 May 2017

[accessed 4 November 2017]

In February 2017, Chechnya’s law enforcement and security officials launched an anti-gay purge. They rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, held them in unofficial detention facilities for days, humiliated, starved, and tortured them. They forcibly disappeared some of the men. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. Their captors exposed them to their families as gay and encouraged their relatives to carry out honor killings. Although Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the round-ups, the information presented in this report shows that top-level local authorities in Chechnya sanctioned them. Russia’s federal government has pledged to investigate, but intense and well-founded fear of official retaliation and honor killings, and overwhelming stigma will prevent many victims from coming forward.

This report documents the violent purge and the local and federal government’s response. It is based on interviews with men who had been rounded up, as well as with journalists who documented the round-ups and with representatives of a Russian LGBT organization who have helped these men and documented their ordeals.

"It will never get back to normal." Stories of three torture victims in Russia

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (irct), 28 Nov 2016

[accessed 13 January 2019]

“They made me sit on a chair with a high back and handcuffed me so my hands were behind the back of the chair. They then took a baseball bat and started to hit me on the parts of my body, which were covered by clothes. They beat me up and put a plastic bag over my head to choke me. Mikhaylenko [a police officer] made sure to hold on to the handcuffs so I didn't fall from the beating,” says Oleg.

As a result of the beating, Oleg ended up with a hematoma on his head, leading to swelling and bruising.

“They were doing everything to make me confess. When they removed the plastic bag from my head, Makarov [another police officer] used a wide belt to hit my head in such a way that my skin was pulled from my skull. At one point I realised that they were hitting the hair area so I didn’t end up with bruises on my face, and I raised my head so they hit my eyebrow.”

Oleg’s white shirt was covered in blood. “They said ‘look, he ruined his face’. Makarov said ‘no big deal. Now we'll break his nose and then say that he fell down the stairs.’ They pulled me up and he [Makarov] put one of his hands next to my shoulder bone, while he used the other hand to grab my head and hit it against the table. However, I managed to turn my head and instead of hitting my nose, they hit my eyebrows again. This time, the other eyebrow started to bleed.”

Oleg fell on the floor and they started to hit and kick him. He started to shout and the head of the department came running, telling them to stop as they already had all the evidence they needed.

As a result of the torture, Oleg was left with several injuries including wounds around the eyebrows, extravasations on the chest, right shoulder, right cheek, both thighs, right buttock, around both eyes, as well as bruising of the left eye socket and bruises around the left eyelid.

Torture in the Russian Federation

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (irct)

Developed in collaboration with the Interregional Non-governmental Organization “Committee Against Torture” (INGO CAT), June 2014

[accessed 23 June 2015]

The inadequate definition of torture in national law, which is not in line with United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), leads to victims facing difficulties in accessing legal help. Compounding this is a lack of independence of the prosecution and judiciary, leading to impunity. There are no state programs of rehabilitation for victims of torture and there is no definition of a torture victim.

Office of Russian Anti-Torture NGO Attacked in Chechen Capital

The Moscow Times, 3 June 2015

[accessed 21 June 2015]

[accessed 1 August 2017]

Masked men stormed the Grozny office of the Committee Against Torture, a prominent human rights NGO, on Wednesday morning, the organization said via its Twitter account.

The Committee Against Torture wrote on its official Twitter page Wednesday that masked men had vandalized its vehicle and broke down the door to its office. Other members of a mob that had gathered near the office climbed onto its balcony and tried to break a window, the NGO said.

The men vandalized the office as the organization's employees escaped through a window.

No police units were dispatched to the scene, according to the Committee Against Torture.

The Committee Against Torture was founded in 2000 by rights activists from the city of Nizhny Novgorod and monitors cases of torture and violent treatment in Russia. The organization also offers legal and medical support to victims of torture.

Committee Against Torture is recognized as victim in arson case

Vestnik Kavkaza, 15 March 2015

[accessed 30 March 2015]

The NGO "Committee Against Torture" has been recognized as a victim in a criminal investigation into an arson attack on the office of the Joint Mobile Group in the capital of Chechnya, Grozny.

The arson attack took place in December 2012. The attack caused the Committee Against Torture damage estimated at approximately 260 thousand rubles.

Eight Ex-Officers In Tatarstan Sentenced In High-Profile Torture Case

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, 16 June 2014

[accessed 17 June 2014]

Eight former police officers in Russia's Republic of Tatarstan have been sentenced to prison terms of between two and 15 years in a high-profile torture case.   A court on June 16 found the eight defendants guilty of abuse of power and inflicting bodily injury that led to death.

A probe against the eight officers was launched in 2012 after the death of a suspect arrested by police in Kazan for alleged hooliganism.   Before his death in hospital, the man told doctors that police had tortured him and raped him with a bottle.

Witness in Trial Against Former Makhachkala Mayor Alleges Torture

Matthew Bodner, The Moscow Times, Issue 5306, 10 February 2014

[accessed 11 Feb 2014]

The key witness in the trial against former Makhachkala mayor Said Amirov says he was coerced in to giving false testimony by the Federal Security Service, one of Amirov's defense lawyers told Ekho Moskvy.

Statements made by the witness, Magomed Abdulgalimov, in which he claims to have been subjected to electroshock torture by FSB officers were provided to Amirov's former defense attorney, Vladimir Postanyuk said.

Russian prisons are essentially torture chambers

Emma Wallis, Deutsche Welle DW-WORLD.DE, 22 November 2013

[accessed 23 Nov 2013]

I don't think that you can influence Russia's judicial system, or the federal penitentiary system from the outside very much at all. Nothing can be changed until you start arresting the people who work in the system. For torture, verbal abuse, rape, battery … for planting illegal drugs, explosives and weapons on people and putting them away. Until you start putting these people behind bars in Russia, any reforms of the penal system in Russia will be impossible. It's very important for these things to be voiced, written, spoken about, because we are seeing that public opinion can be changed.

23rd General Report of the CPT - European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - 1 August 2012 - 31 July 2013

Council of Europe, Strasbourg, 6 November 2013

[accessed 7 Nov 2013]


55. A significant proportion of the detained persons interviewed by the CPT’s delegation made allegations of recent ill-treatment by law enforcement officials.

The ill-treatment alleged was frequently of such severity as to amount to torture (e.g. electric shocks, asphyxiation with a gas mask); this was particularly the case in the Republic of Dagestan and the Chechen Republic, although some very serious allegations were also received in North Ossetia-Alania. In the vast majority of cases, the torture/severe ill-treatment was said to have been inflicted at the time of questioning by operational officers, either during the initial period of deprivation of liberty or (and) during periods when remand prisoners were returned to the custody of law enforcement agencies for further investigative purposes. In a considerable number of cases, the delegation gathered medical evidence that was fully consistent with recent torture or other forms of severe ill-treatment; a selection of individual cases is given in the CPT’s report in respect of each of the three Republics visited.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/RUS/CO/4 (2007)

[accessed 5 March 2013]

Safeguards for detainees

Laws and practices that obstruct access to lawyers and relatives of suspects and accused persons, thus providing insufficient safeguards for detainees, include:

Internal regulations of temporary facilities i.e. IVS (temporary police detention) and SIZOs (pre-trial establishments), failures of the courts to order investigations into allegations that evidence has been obtained through torture, as well as reported reprisals against defence lawyers alleging that their client has been tortured or otherwise ill-treated, and which appear to facilitate torture and ill-treatment;

The possibility of restricting access to relatives of suspects in the interest of the secrecy of the investigations provided for in article 96 of the Code of Criminal Procedure;

The Law on Operative-Search Activity, as well as the federal Law No. 18-FZ of 22 April 2004, amending article 99 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, according to which suspects of “terrorism” may be detained for up to 30 days without being charged;

The reported practice of detention of criminal suspects on administrative charges, under which detainees are deprived of procedural guarantees.

Widespread use of torture

The Committee is concerned at:

The particularly numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations of acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment committed by law enforcement personnel, including in police custody;

The law enforcement promotion system based on the number of crimes solved, which appears to create conditions that promote the use of torture and ill-treatment with a view to obtaining confessions;

The information of the State party that representatives of international organizations other than the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture can talk to prisoners only when accompanied by representatives of the administration.

Investigations and impunity

The insufficient level of independence of the Procuracy, in particular due to the problems posed by the dual responsibility of the Procuracy for prosecution and oversight of the proper conduct of investigations,  and the failure to initiate and conduct prompt, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of torture or ill-treatment.

Use of evidence obtained through torture

While the Code of Criminal Procedure states that evidence obtained by torture shall be inadmissible, in practice there appear to be no instruction to the courts to rule that the evidence is inadmissible, or to order an immediate, impartial and effective investigation.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment remained widely reported and effective investigations were rare. Law enforcement officials allegedly frequently circumvented the existing legal safeguards against torture through, among other things: the use of secret detention (particularly in the North Caucasus); the use of force supposedly to restrain violent detainees; investigators denying access to a lawyer of one’s choice and favouring specific state-appointed lawyers who were known to ignore signs of torture.

In March, one torture case in Kazan was widely reported in the media after a man died of internal injuries in hospital. He claimed that he had been raped with a bottle at the police station. Several police officers were arrested and charged with abuse of power, and two were later sentenced to two and two-and-a-half years’ imprisonment respectively. Many more allegations of torture by police in Kazan and elsewhere followed media reports of this case. In response to an NGO initiative, the Head of the Investigative Committee decreed to create special departments to investigate crimes committed by law enforcement officials. However, the initiative was undermined by the failure to provide these departments with adequate staff resources.


Rustam Aushev, a 23-year-old resident of Ingushetia, was last seen on 17 February at Mineralnye Vody railway station in the neighbouring Stavropol region. The next day, his relative spoke to staff at the station. They reported seeing a young man being detained by plain-clothes men and driven away in a Gazelle minivan, which was also captured on CCTV. A security guard had reportedly spoken to the minivan’s driver asking it to be parked in the designated area, and was shown an FSB official’s ID. Rustam Aushev’s family reported these details to the authorities and demanded an investigation, but his fate and whereabouts were unknown at the end of the year.

In Ingushetia, the first ever trial of two former police officials concluded in Karabulak. Some charges related to the secret detention and torture of Zelimkhan Chitigov although the officials faced other charges as well. The announcement of the verdict was postponed repeatedly for almost three months, and on 7 November the judge sentenced one defendant to eight years’ imprisonment, and fully acquitted the other, his former superior. Allegations of intimidation of victims and witnesses had persisted throughout the trial, during which both defendants remained at large. No other perpetrators were identified despite Zelimkhan Chitigov naming at least one other official by name and alleging that many others had been involved in the incessant bouts of torture during the three days he was kept in secret detention.


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 6   Civil Liberties: 5   Status: Not  Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 11 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

Critics charge that Russia has failed to address ongoing criminal justice problems, such as poor prison conditions and law enforcement officials’ widespread use of illegal detention and torture to extract confessions. In some cases, there has also been a return to the Soviet-era practices of punitive psychiatry.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2013]

[accessed 5 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, there were credible reports that law enforcement personnel frequently engaged in torture, violence, and other brutal or humiliating treatment or punishment to coerce confessions from suspects and that the government did not consistently hold officials accountable for such actions. Although prohibited in the constitution, torture is defined neither in the law nor the criminal code. As a result, the only accusation prosecutors could bring against police suspected of such behavior was that they exceeded their authority or committed a simple assault.

Cases of physical abuse by police officers usually occurred within the first few hours or days of arrest. Some of the methods reportedly used were: beatings with fists, batons, or other objects; asphyxiation using gas masks or bags (at times filled with mace); electric shocks; or suspension by body parts (for example, suspending a victim from the wrists, which are tied together behind the back). Allegations of abuse were difficult to substantiate because of limited access by medical professionals. There were credible reports that both government forces and Chechen fighters in Chechnya tortured detainees (see section 1.g.).

Reports by refugees, NGOs, and the press suggested a pattern of police beatings, arrests, and extortion directed at persons with dark skin or who appeared to be from the Caucasus, Central Asia, or Africa, and at Roma. For example in June 2004 the press reported that in Novosibirsk 4 policemen were arrested on suspicion of extorting over $1 million (28 million rubles) from a Romani family by kidnapping and torturing family members until their demands were met. The policemen were reportedly later tried and convicted.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Russia",, [accessed <date>]