Breaking News: Russian Prison Sex-Abuse Scandal

Dear Readers:

I am interrupting my current Voroshilov vs Tukhachevsky series for some breaking news. This news is actually a couple of weeks old, but there are new developments. My source material is this article from RIA Novosti.

The basic story is this: A man named Sergei Saveliev is on the run, having leaked some files to Russian Human Rights activists. Saveliev is being compared to Julian Assange. Assange is a much more important person in the scheme of things, it goes without saying; however, some of the issues are the name, regarding journalistic freedoms and protections for whistleblowers who expose wrong-doing. For a couple of weeks now, Russian readers have been disgusted and outraged at images of prisoners being sexually assaulted by guards, and the worst part is, some of this abuse is happening in a hospital, a place where human beings (even criminals) are supposed to be cared for, not harmed and abused.

Whistleblower Sergei Saveliev

Earlier, videos had appeared on youtube, depicting the hospitalized prisoners being tortured and sexually assaulted, including with objects such as broomsticks; which reminds people of the kind of Third World abuse which happened in places like Gruzia and helped to bring down the Saakashvili government at the time.

These Human Rights activists work for a pro-Western NGO called; their ideological purpose obviously is to show the Russian government and system in a poor light. But motives aside, nobody disputes the factualness of their assertions. They have documented at least four clear cases of torture, abuse, and humiliation of prisoners, reminiscent of scenes of American soldiers tormenting Iraqis at Abu Ghraib.

The hospital where some of these particular abuses took place is called the “Regional Tuberculosis Hospital #1” in the Saratov Oblast, which is run by the Russian Federal Department of Corrections. This is where they send convicted criminals in this region who need to be treated for tuberculosis.

After these sensational images were leaked, the Russian Prosecutor General’s office has opened an investigation. Unfortunately, they seem to be more focused on capturing the leaker, Saveliev, than on punishing the brutes who abused the prisoners under their care.

Boys Will Be Boys And Cops Will Be Cops

It’s all par for the course, naturally, and it’s exactly the same in every country on the planet: Most cops are natural bullies, they become desensitized to extreme violence, they abuse their power over people, and the government protects them from accountability. Russia is no different from the U.S. in that respect, although it is a hopeful sign that this matter has been brought to the highest levels of the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, Western press reports that Sergei has fled to France and requested political asylum there. If he returns to Russia, he will be arrested under [an unnamed Statute]. How did Sergei come to have these files which he leaked? Previously he had been arrested for dealing drugs and had to serve out his term at the Saratov prison. While there he worked in the computer lab and was able to hack into the files. (In the title to the piece, Sergei is referred to as a “Programmer” by trade.) After hacking the files, Sergei uploaded them to the internet. The most remarkable fact is that he found these sick and sadistic images from prisons (not just Saratov) from all over Russia.

The city of Saratov is a major port on the Volga River

Meanwhile, the Russian Federal authorities are launching a dual investigation: (1) to verify the leaked information and determine whether the abuse is actually occurring; and (2) to catch and punish Saveliev for leaking computer files he was not authorized to have, which is why they have issued an International Warrant for his arrest.

The RIA piece ends with this paragraph:

Dmitry Peskov, Press-Secretary to the President of Russia stated that the Kremlin is aware of the video depicting the rape of a prisoner in the Saratov Oblast. The Federal Bureau of Corrections will deal with this case, should the authenticity of the materials be verified; and if so, this will result in a serious investigation.

Readers React

Some randomly selected comments to this piece, on the part of Russian readers:

Konstantin Parfenov: Why are they searching for him? To reward him, or to jail him? [yalensis: 3 guesses!]

Igor Zemlyankin: Investigation of corruption equals Extremism. Exposing crimes violates the Statute. Good is Bad. White is Black. Orwell is banned.

Anton Liubitsky: No doubt he uncovered many interesting things and got in the way of certain interests.

Serge Gorely: They don’t arrest the people who committed torture, but Assange of Wikileaks, they put in prison.

Moishe: There is a precedent, Snowden, as a human rights activist, was given asylum by us, therefore they can’t jail [Saveliev].

Ivan Ivanov: He disclosed a state secret?

Dmitry B.: The faces of the perpetrators are visible [in the images], so they know who to go after.

Viktor Garmashov: Which statute did he violate? State treason, no doubt.

Divan Davkin: Our “white and fluffy” cops won’t investigate their own!

Sergei Ivanov [makes the best point ever, IMHO]: The newspaper reports that Saveliev, while servicing the computers in the computer lab, was able, without being noticed, to upload video files from prisons all over Russia. In other words, they knew about these incidents….

[yalensis: That last point is something that boggles the mind. Not that prison guards are selected from people with sadistic tendencies — that is to be expected. But that they are allowed to videotape their own crimes and upload to the prison network — for what purpose? As a training manual in how to be more brutal?

Another point I want to make is that, skimming through the comments — I didn’t count them, but there are hundreds — the sentiment is overwhelmingly pro-Saveliev and anti-cop. I saw at most one comment asserting that Saveliev should not have published these video files, and that one commenter was quickly refuted by a host of others.]


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10 Responses to Breaking News: Russian Prison Sex-Abuse Scandal

  1. Ben says:

    “But that they are allowed to videotape their own crimes and upload to the prison network — for what purpose? As a training manual in how to be more brutal?”

    They’re showing off to each other. It’s a club, and this is part of the club activities.

    Also, you say the comments are overwhelmingly anti-cop. But this seems hard to square with what you’ve said elsewhere (in the context of Russian coverage of BLM) about a natural Russian inclination to side with police. Any idea is the comments represent a general public outrage, or are they just a congregation of people who were already inclined to be anti-cop swarming an anti-cop news piece?


    • yalensis says:

      “They’re showing off to each other. It’s a club, and this is part of the club activities.”

      Bingo, I think you nailed that, Ben. Thanks for your comment.

      As for the Russian reader reactions, that is a very interesting question, to which I do not have an answer. The piece itself was not overtly anti-cop, was quite neutral in tone, but it makes sense that anti-cop people would swarm any piece about this particular story. It’s a plausible theory that the majority of Russian public might secretly side with the police, but didn’t want to jump in here and try to defend some indefensible thing, knowing they would be mobbed by the antis.

      One can say that most Russians, maybe the “silent majority” support the police in whatever they do. On the other hand, there is a legitimate component of Russian culture, dating back to Tsarist times, which sympathizes with prisoners, even calls them “unfortunates”. You’ll see this in Russian literature, and not just Dostoevsky. Maybe because traditionally there was such a blurring of the line between political dissidents and actual criminals.
      As for the actual numbers, pro- versus anti-cop, I really couldn’t say, without somebody doing a scientific survey of modern Russian public opinion.

      By the way, I would also contrast this story with an earlier one, which I “covered” in the past on my blog, namely the female cop in Ufa who was raped by her own superiors. This case was sensational in Russian media and often referred to as the “female investigator in Ufa” case.
      Here, comments showed public opinion to be overwhelmingly against the rape victim. Who, admittedly, was not an innocent lamb: She was a party girl and an incompetent police officer who frequently showed up to work drunk. Therefore, Russian readers believed her boss had the right to invite her to an office party where alcohol was being consumed, knock her to the floor with his fist, and rape her, then another cop raped her as well.
      Given that rape of young women is a special case, and female rape victims rarely get any sympathy, in any society that I know of. The general sentiment in the commentary was “She got what she deserved,” or “Boys will be boys,” that sort of thing. I notice that nobody was saying that about the male prisoners in this recent case. Maybe being raped in the vagina is okay, but not in the rectum, sorry for speaking so crudely.

      Although, when it comes to American culture, which is way more cruel than Russian culture, you will see Americans overwhelmingly support any sort of sexual brutality in the prison complex, even against male prisoners. I’m not kidding about this. Your average American literally believes that prison rape is okay, and a legtimate part of the punishment. Of course, in America, the whole crime thing is infused with racial politics as well, which makes it even uglier.


      • yalensis says:

        P.S. – there was a further development in the Ufa case after the one I posted: The reversal of the convictions was, in turn, reversed again. I should have posted on that later development, but I didn’t. It’s hard to keep track, but I think in the end two of the rapists served real time, the woman victim revealed her identity and got another job, and I believe she was even reconciled with her father. So, happy ending. Sort of.


      • Ben says:

        That rape case sounds like a case of straight up misogyny. Which I know is a ludicrously overused term these days, but it’s hard to find another one in this case. When the reaction is to just shrug and mumble ‘boys will be boys’, and ‘she’s a party girl, so she deserved it’, how does that display anything but a hatred of women? Or at least a severe inability to view them as fully human and equal to men in their status as people.

        And you just know, by the way, that many, probably most, of those making the victim at fault, and probably her rapists as well, themselves have sisters and daughters. So they’ve not just lived with, but watched women grow up and experience life, and yet display such complete obliviousness to the personhood of women, and a complete incomprehension of why rape (or any form of brutal assault; you also just know most of these guys see nothing wrong with slapping a ‘disobedient’ girl around a few times) is such a big deal.

        (looking at my shelf, I think I’ve read and watched quite a bit more of women’s fiction than men’s in my life. I certainly have a predisposition towards heroines much more than heroes. In particular I’ve read and watched a lot of Japanese shoujo ( fiction over the years. At this point I find the whole concept of dehumanizing women not just repulsive, but downright alien. Maybe that’s a partial solution: get boys and men out of the macho fiction rut)

        Also, these types of guys would be absolutely outraged if a female relative of theirs was raped, but it would mostly be outrage that one of ‘their’ women was attacked, rather than outrage for the woman herself. To attack them to is indirectly attack the ‘honor’ of the man (I’ve found that no one with any kind of rigid, formal honor code ever actually has anything resembling what I would call honor. Gangsters have ‘honor’ when defending the family by butchering a police informant, samurai had ‘honor’ when executing uppity peasants, etc).

        Not to attempt to psychoanalyze a whole society, but I’ve been going through Cathy Porter’s biography of Alexandra Kollontai, and early on it covers a lot of Russian peasant and working women in general under the Tsar. There were apparently some really staggering misogynistic attitudes back then, including a ‘lovely’ saying about how “a hen isn’t a bird, and a woman isn’t a person”. They’d actively give women the worst jobs in the villages, and later with industrialization this shifted to giving them the worst mining jobs, or making them work 18 hour shifts in the factories, even when pregnant (it wasn’t uncommon for them to have to give birth on the shop floor). Perhaps some of that thinking was never fully purged from Russian society, even in the 100+ years since. It certainly puts the some of the extreme lengths the Bolsheviks went to to attempt cultural transformation into perspective, if those were the kinds of widespread social attitudes they hadto confront.

        As for US acceptance of prison rape, I wouldn’t say people view it as an acceptable part of the punishment (though laments that, eg, banksters, never seem to end up in ‘rape-me-in-the-ass federal penitentiary’ are very common to hear. And it’s hard to disagree with the sentiment), so much as everyone just accepts it as a thing that happens, and no one seems to much care. It’s literally the butt of jokes (“don’t drop the soap!”). No one cares about male rape in the US, basically.


        • yalensis says:

          Yeah, thanks for some very interesting and thought-provoking comments.
          Yeah, the Bolsheviks had to deal with a lot of misogyny in Russian culture (especially peasant culture), but let’s face it, misogyny is built into every culture on the planet (at least that I ever heard of). The Bolsheviks really believed in female equality and fought to implement it, but had to deal with a lot of backward attitudes, that’s true.
          As for the Ufa case, this happened in Bashkiria, and one imagines that “traditional” attitudes are even stronger out there in the provinces.

          That being said, this was a fascinatory story in many ways. The girl comes from a broken family of divorced parents: Her father is a powerful bigwig who is rather high up in the Federal-level (Russian) National Guard. Her mom is said to be a battle-ax who is a powerful personality within their own (Bashkirian) community. The girl was highly intelligent and well-educated, but also beautiful, spoiled and very young. She made all the mistakes of youth: Posted suggestive photos of herself on social media, etc. People in the police were jealous that she got such a job right out of school, and probably thought it had to do with nepotism.

          One of the mysteries is how these older cops thought they could even get away with raping the daughter of such a powerful man. They probably thought she wouldn’t say anything, but she fought back against them, which is unusual. Most women would just let it go, knowing it wasn’t worth the consequences for speaking out. Being a whistleblower against the police is especially dangerous.

          In the end, a rough justice prevailed: Everybody was fired, including the girl (which she deserved, because she broke the rule about consuming alcohol on the job), and, if I am not mistaken, two out of the three rapists served, or are serving, real time; and the third guy was disgraced in front of his family.


        • yalensis says:

          P.S. – if you are interested in reading the most hateful misogyny on the planet, then all you have to do is access any English-language article in “RT America” on the topic of some women’s issue. You’ll see the word “woke” used about a hundred times in the course of every paragraph. Even the notion of simple human equality is now too “woke” for the simpleton minds of RT readers. In the comment section you will encounter Incels debating about the best way to abuse women, and exchanging “wife-beating” jokes. So funny haha!

          You’re right that misogynists don’t actually perceive women to be human beings, just some aliens, I reckon. Isn’t it sort of weird though that human beings (=men) are born from the wombs of non-human beings? What’s up with that?


          • Ben says:

            RT seems to have a mandate to publish anything that makes the US look bad. Which usually isn’t difficult. But they’ll take anything they can get, which means that on the one hand they’ll have worthwhile voices like Chris Hedges, Lee Camp, or Abby Martin (before she quit), but on the other hand will run articles written by whatever far right reprobate swamp creature comes along.


            • yalensis says:

              I abhor the notion of censorship, and I like the fact that RT America will publish literally anything, that’s the essence of free speech. They publish voices that would not get a hearing anywhere else, including leftie voices which I personally like (such as Lee and Abby, etc.)
              I just groan at the bulk of their content and their political slant. I don’t even think they are trying to make America look bad, I think they are actually buying into this notion that Trumpites are the true voice of America and will make friends with Russia, hahahahaha
              Meanwhile, how many of their commenters from the American Idiocracy are convinced that Putin is the annointed leader of the white males of the world, that he will put blacks, women and homos in their place, again hahahahahahah
              sorry, I just can’t stop myself from laughing so much…


              • Ben says:

                I assume you’ve seen the speech Putin made at the Valdai club last week? It was straight reactionary rhetoric. I have no sympathy for the woke, but he threw basically everything to his left under the bus there, including vilification of the Bolsheviks. Putin’s domestic worldview seems to be that he wants a return to the ‘moral values’ of Tsarist times.


              • yalensis says:

                Yup, I concur. I’m done with Putin. I give him due respect for restoring Russia’s military might in the world and kicking out the American advisors; but politically he has moved straight reactionary to the right. Putin has Lenin under his skin and can’t resist taking cheap pot-shots against the Bolsheviks. Notice though that he is very careful not to touch Stalin. I could write an essay about the plausible reasons why that is so. (But I won’t. For now…)

                Next on the agenda, Headline: Will Putin restore the monarchy and rehabilitate the Black Hundreds? (only partially joking…)

                Anyhow, Putin and his worldwide followers of like-minded “conservatives” use the woke excesses to fire up the plebes. They have managed to blur the lines to such a degree that even simple calls for equality and basic rights, are regarded as too woke. Wokies themselves are partially to blame, of course, for their own ridiculous excesses. They hand themselves to the righties on a silver platter. Healthy-minded workers should have focused on notions of basic “equality”, instead pushing for a “turning of the tables” and this silly gender shit, plus the curse of black nationalism and like-minded false ideologies.

                All part of the ruling class strategy to divide the working class, I daresay. Or at least to befuddle minds to such a degree that nobody even knows what is real any more.


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