Russian inmate's beating puts spotlight on police brutality

Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:37pm EST
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By Gleb Bryanski

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Three prison guards have been detained for beating up an inmate in a case that highlights Russia's failure to stamp out brutality by law enforcement officers more than a decade after Vladimir Putin rose to power.

Russia's prison authority took action after video footage appeared on the Internet showing men in uniform hitting and kicking a prisoner who has his hands tied behind his back and his trousers down.

Some of the violent footage, in which the inmate's pleas for mercy are ignored after he falls to the floor, was shown on Russian television on Thursday.

Russia's human rights ombudsman said such abusive treatment has become almost "routine" and needed the government's urgent attention because it discredited and weakened the state.

The prison authority said the inmate had behaved "extremely provocatively", disobeyed orders and refused to exchange civilian clothes for a prison uniform at the start of a 3-1/2 year jail sentence for robbery and assault.

Acknowledging the guards at a prison in the southern city of Novocherkassk had used excessive force and violated the prisoner's rights, it said three guards had been detained and three others were under investigation.

"The suspects, both simultaneously and taking turns, delivered multiple blows to the convict's head and body with their hands and feet," Valery Chekryshev, a senior regional investigative official, told on state television.

Reports of people being mistreated in custody are still frequent, six months into Putin's third, six-year term as president. He was first elected president in 2000.   Continued...

Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin speaks during a news conference in Moscow, August 23, 2012. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (