The so-called Commissioner for Human Rights in Chechnya, Mansur Soltayev, visited Dimitrovgrad prison where prisoners were on a hunger strike. According to him, Chechens serving their sentences there have not complained of religious discrimination, but they have voiced complaints about strict rules, poor medical care and restrictions on visits.
«Кавказский узел» informs about that.
According to human rights project Gulagu.net, the story began on April 13, when prisoners, mostly from Chechnya and Ingushetia, were beaten in Dimitrovgrad prison. Over a hundred people went on a hunger strike. But on May 3, relatives of the convicts and human rights activists reported that prisoners had stopped the protest action, having despaired of achieving results in that way. The Committee “Civic Assistance” says that human rights activists are documenting complaints and preparing an appeal to supervisory authorities on the fact of discrimination on religious grounds.
At the meeting with the convicts’ relatives on 19 April, so-called Chechen ombudsman Mansur Soltayev confirmed that there had been a conflict in the colony, but there were no grounds to speak of an ethnic or sectarian conflict. Also, according to him, it was confirmed that the prisoners “cut their wrists.” “Why they did so is another question <…> the relatives don’t really know the reason,” he said at the meeting, adding that a legal assessment of the event would be given in the near future.
Chechen State Television and Radio Company “Grozny” reports that in order to verify information about discrimination against convicts from the republic, the Chechen ombudsman met with authorities from the Federal Penitentiary Service and the regional ombudsman and visited Dimitrovgrad prison in Ulyanovsk oblast.
Soltayev was given all the CCTV footage and he checked detention conditions of prisoners from Chechnya. According to the report published on the website of the television company, the inspection reveals that there are acceptable conditions for religious practice in the institution. In particular, convicts can read the Koran and there are prayer mats in the cells. Also, according to the convicts themselves, they are free to fast and practice their religion.
The hunger strikers and convicts who injured themselves complained of “strict prison regulations, poor medical care, violation of prisoner parcel procedures and restrictions on visits from relatives. On the other hand, Soltayev asserts that there is no evidence of religious descrimination. “No one has torn up the Koran, which is confirmed, in particular, by the convicts,” notes the publication. The ombudsman called on Chechen natives to “strictly observe legal norms of behavior in prison” and concluded that convicted Chechens were “used by provocateurs to create a public outcry,” according to the TV company’s website.
An agreement has been reached with prison authorities “to constantly control prisoners’ personal safety and legality of disciplinary measures.” The publication notes that prison authorities and prisoners have reached a common understanding.
It should be noted that the Chechen ombudsman’s reports have long been met with skepticism from users of social networks.
Meanwhile, on April 22, in its Telegram channel, the project Gulagu.net reported the version of human rights defenders, according to which security officers came to the prison and “put psychological pressure and blackmail prisoners in order to force them to conceal the fact of defacement of the Koran and religious literature of Muslims”.