Leading Russian rights activists have accused the authorities of indifference to abuses and torture they said were rampant in Russian jails. They called for legislation allowing public oversight of detention facilities.
Lev Ponomaryov, the head of the All-Russian Public Movement for Human Rights, likened Russia's prison system to the Soviet Gulag. "Without doubt, the policy of [prison officials] is aimed at making punishment more severe, crushing each convict ... and morally and often physically destroying them," he told a news conference.
In an annual report based on monitoring prisons in 40 out of Russia's 89 regions, his organisation said prison officials routinely beat and tortured inmates. The report said the convicts also were subjected to cruel punishment for no reason and systematically humiliated.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
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