Demokrati-JA project “Letters to political prisoners”

Quite recently, a documentary was released about torture in the Pokrovsky colony, where Alexei Navalny is kept. Elena Ilyina, a volunteer of the Fairy Tales for Political Prisoners project, talks about how the torture mechanism works in Russian prisons.

Zones of lawlessness and gradation of cruelty in them

Traditionally, it is believed that Russian “correctional” institutions: correctional colonies and prisons, are divided into the so-called “red” and “black” zones. These are evaluative terms, and their boundaries are not clear.

Prisons with strict adherence to the law are considered “red”. Tough “cop” concepts prevail there, the administration is in full control with complete impunity and cover-ups from above (protection) of the oversight bodies of the IK. However, even here the administration uses the imprisoned “thieves” in exchange for certain indulgences for them. In the red zones, the interaction of prisoners with the administration of the colony is encouraged. Life here follows the rules of the zone administration.

“Black” zones are areas ruled by thieves, where life flows according to thieves’ “concepts”, and the administration completely removes itself and transfers control of the colony to repeat offenders. The boss here is the leader of the “thieves” – “godfather” – a recognized crime boss. If there is no such thing in the zone, then a prisoner is appointed who performs the functions of a leader. The majority zones in Russia are “black”.

However, this division is conditional and says little about the severity of being in the colony. In both zones, serving a sentence can be completely tolerable or completely unbearable for a prisoner. It all depends on the head of the colony and on the recommendation of the FSB attached to the prisoner’s case. In the same colony, the attitude towards political prisoners can be different, as was seen in the case of Valentin Vygovsky and Roman Sushchenko, who were in the same colony IK-11 in Utrobino, where Vygovsky was kept alone in draconian conditions, and Sushchenko, although also alone, but without the use of harsh measures against him.

The unofficial status of a political prisoner given to him by the FSB means a lot, as we see today on the example of Viktor Filinkov (the case of the so-called “Network”) in IK-1 in the Orenburg region, who did not admit his guilt and told about torture by FSB officers at the trial. Viktor is now on a hunger strike, because he is practically not allowed out of the punishment cell (the strictest conditions of imprisonment), inventing violations or planting prohibited items on him (for example, a few days ago he was given a razor).

So, it does not matter at all which zone the political prisoner got into, if there is an order to press him from above – from the FSB, as in the case of Valentin Vygovsky and Viktor Filinkov, or directly from the Gelendzhik Palace with golden brushes, as in the case of Alexei Navalny.

— (To be continued) —

Autor: Shaun Roy