RIA Novosti: Putin orders check on prison conditions

Russian Jail File Photo Showing Outer Wall, Windows, Barbed Wire

(RIA Novosti – January 3, 2017)

President Vladimir Putin has ordered the nation’s prosecutor-general to investigate the observance of the law inside Russia’s prison system, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported on 3 January, citing a statement on the Kremlin website.

“The prosecutor-general is to conduct a check on the conformity by the Federal Penal Service of implementation of legislation on public control of the guaranteeing of human rights in places of detention, in particular with regard to cooperation with members of human rights commissions in the Russian regions,” the instruction said.

Putin has also asked the Supreme Court to look into measures to ensure the independence of the judiciary and transparency of the legal system, RIA Novosti reported.

“We recommend the Supreme Court, together with the prosecutor-general’s office, representative for human rights and with the participation of the presidential council for development of civil society and human rights, and also representatives of the expert community, to analyse the effectiveness of measures to guarantee the independence of the judiciary and openness and transparency of the legal system,” an order on the Kremlin website said.

The Kremlin has also asked the Justice Ministry to look at how the controversial “foreign agent law” is applied to environmental groups, RIA Novosti reported. Under the law, the “foreign agent” label has been applied to a number of rights groups and also to Russia’s largest independent pollster, the Levada Centre, which have complained that this hampers their activities.

The move comes after conditions in Russia’s prisons were highlighted late in 2016 by the case of Ildar Dadin, who was sent to prison for breaking the law on holding protests. His wife subsequently claimed he had been abused at his prison in Karelia.

The campaign attracted the attention of Russia’s human rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova, who recommended in November 2016 that he be sent in another prison. There has been no news about his whereabouts since, and bloggers have been campaigning on social media for disclosure of his whereabouts (bit.ly/2hLcYPd).