Chairman of the Committee Against Torture, member of the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation, Igor Kalyapin:
“At the background of beautiful interviews of Deputy Director of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia Valery Maksimenko from the Mirror-world, in which he tells that his department is open and ready for cooperation, that no one would shield esprit de corps and conceal negative facts – recently I received a letter from head of the Orenburg Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service Sergey Porshin, which returned me to the real world, where everything looks completely different.
For two years, my colleagues from the Committee Against Torture and me, have been appealing to good sense, officers’ honor and the very same esprit de corps, which is the cause of so much concern of the Federal Penitentiary Service representatives, but for them the seeming not the real one.
For two years we have been asking that the department superiors apologized for grave and disgusting crimes which were committed by the officers of the Orenburg penal colonies and detention facilities and with regard to whom judgements of conviction were passed:
– using the convicts for personal advantage during construction of summer house, threats, including using weapons,
– battery and sexual violence against the convict under the supervision of the penal colony officers,
– battery of the convict by detention facility officers, after which he died.
Do you know what they answered to us each time?
“Offering apologies is not provided in the applicable legislation”.
At first, in 2017 this was the answer of head of the Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia for the Orenburg region Vladimir Andreev.
After Deputy Head of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia Valery Maksimenko offered public apologies to convict Evgeny Makarov, who was tortured by the Yaroslavl penal colony officers, my colleagues applied to Mr Maksimenko with a request to offer apologies also to the persons involved in three criminal cases from the Orenburg region, who suffered from criminal actions of the Federal Penitentiary Service officers.
We counted on the fact that these claims of Valery Maksimenko were not populism and not just talking the way out of the Yaroslavl scandal, but a decent stance of a superior and an officer, and that he would consider it correct and necessary to apologize to other victims, too. Unfortunately, this did not happen.
We received the response with the same wording, and this time Mr Maksimenko did not take in the role of a sincere manager from the Federal Penitentiary Service and did not bother himself with an answer – we received a formal reply not from him, but from legal department of the Federal Penitentiary Service – “not provided in the legislation”.
After than I myself applied to Director of the Federal Penitentiary Service Gennadiy Kornienko asking him to order his Orenburg subordinates to apologize to the victims suffered from the crimes of the department officers. I also asked Mr Kornienko to resolve, at last, the issue on obligation of the Federal Penitentiary System superiors to apologize to the victims for the crimes of their subordinates.
In addition, I suggested to Mr Kornienko the support of lawyers with the Committee Against Torture for conducting training for the personnel of the Orenburg Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service on human rights theory and on unacceptability of human rights violations during their service.
But Mr Kornienko does not even attempt to demonstrate even the semblance of openness to the society, as Mr Maksimenko did, and no response ever came from the head of the correctional institution.
For some unknown reason my letter was pushed further to the Orenburg Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service, where the issues mentioned in my application to Mr Kornienko, cannot be resolved in principle – its authority does not cover them.
And now the new head of the Orenburg Department Sergey Porshin (by the way, do you think the old superior was fired after numerous crimes of his high-ranking subordinates? No, he was promoted and transferred for service in the Perm Territory) once again explained to all of us that the law does not include an obligation to apologize.
He also steered clear of me with my offers of cooperation and support.
He wrote back that the “superiors of the , Orenburg Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service took notice of deep concern of INGO “The Committee Against Torture” representatives with issues of the penal system positive image forming in the society and enhancement of professional training of the personnel. At the same time, we inform that the indicated lines of activity are gradually being implemented by qualified specialists of the appropriate specialized services of territorial bodies of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia. Orenburg Department of the Federal Penitentiary Service does not require any assistance from lawyers of INGO “The Committee Against Torture”.
I would like to ask Mr Porshin the following.
Do you really think that all is well in your department and the “indicated lines of activity are gradually being implemented by qualified specialists of the appropriate specialized services”?
In your organization the convicts were building a summer house to head of penal colony Mr Khusainov, and the same superior, together with his deputy Kumarov organized a show-rape of another convict, your head of detention facility Shnaider together with his subordinate Simonenko beat a convict to death and did not provide access to ambulance to collect him in order to save him…
Moreover, every time when these crimes were committed, other officers of the Federal Penitentiary Service were also present, and they did not take any measures to stop criminal activities of their superiors but later on repeatedly gave false evidence during the preliminary investigation, trying to save their bosses from punishment.
And you, Mr Porshin, consider such a behavior of your subordinates to be a normal result of activity of qualified specialists of the appropriate specialized services”?
Only due to the work of the lawyers with the Committee Against Torture these atrocious crimes were revealed and the guilty persons were punished. But it’s these lawyers who are not included in the new composition of the Public Monitoring Committee – “… because no one voted for them” – that’s how the superiors of the Public Chamber of Russia explained this fact to us.
But for me it is obvious that these lawyers were pushed out of the Public Monitoring Committee as undesirable and uncomfortable, as people who revealed these abscesses in your organization – as people, who really contributed a lot for the real esprit de corps.
Now you’re saying you do not need their support.
I hope that Deputy Head of the Federal Penitentiary Service Mr Maksimenko will not be very offended by that sincerity of yours and by the fact that by such answers you’re breaking his beautiful Mirror-world, from which he tells us many good things about correctional institutions.
According to my observations, in reality, not in the Mirror-world, the Federal Penitentiary Service tries to adequately respond only in cases when some atrocities happened in the organization become known to the public and threaten serious reputational losses. And if the crime details and torture scenes are not published in the federal media, then the superiors will not even pay attention to it. Same goes for the prosecutor’s orders as well as even for courts’ rulings. All the more naïve, as it seems, to wait for apologies from the Federal Penitentiary Service to the victims…
No public scandal in the federal press – no apologies to follow”.