I’m Not Go­ing Any­where Un­til Tor­ture Ends

The Moscow Times - - LOOKING BACK -

In De­cem­ber 2015, Il­dar Dadin be­came the first per­son in Rus­sia to be con­victed un­der Ar­ti­cle 212.1, a con­tro­ver­sial 2014 law that makes re­peated vi­o­la­tions of the coun­try’s strict laws on street protests a crim­i­nal of­fence. He was sen­tenced to two and a half years for tak­ing part in anti-gov­ern­ment protests.

In prison, Dadin al­leged tor­ture. Fol­low­ing pub­lic out­cry, Rus­sia’s Supreme Court over­turned his sen­tence and he was re­leased from a Siberian prison on Feb. 26. Days af­ter walk­ing free, Dadin held a one­man protest out­side the head­quar­ters of Rus­sia’s prison ser­vice.

I was re­leased thanks to pres­sure from civil so­ci­ety, both in­side Rus­sia and abroad. But the law that sent me to prison, which lim­its our right to protest peace­fully, still stands. This was no vic­tory.

Af­ter my re­lease, I went for a peace­ful one-man protest against the tor­ture tak­ing place in Rus­sia’s north­ern Repub­lic of Kare­lia. A po­lice­man told me I did not have the right to stand there un­less I showed him my doc­u­ments. Ac­cord­ing to the Rus­sian con­sti­tu­tion, I am en­ti­tled to know on which ba­sis I am be­ing asked to show my doc­u­ments dur­ing a protest. They de­tained me, be­fore let­ting me go the same day. I felt the need to hold the one-man protest for two rea­sons. First, I wanted the prison ser­vice to fire the head of Kare­lia’s prison sys­tem and the com­man­der of the prison I was held in. The tor­ture in Kare­lian pris­ons hap­pens di­rectly un­der their watch.

Sec­ond, I de­manded that they guar­an­tee the safety of ten peo­ple in the prison I was held in. I know they are be­ing tor­tured and con­victed in new cases for re­port­ing it. I want them to be moved to another prison.

Ini­tially, the me­dia re­ported that the com­man­der of the prison will have to re­sign. But those re­ports were pre­ma­ture. He is still there and I am cer­tain he will take re­venge on the peo­ple who try to report tor­ture. I think he may do it later, when all of this calms down. No­body is in­ter­ested in in­ves­ti­gat­ing him. I think it shows the empti­ness of the Krem­lin’s sys­tem, in which they con­tinue to pre­tend laws are en­forced.

The com­man­der and his men started tor­tur­ing me in Septem­ber last year. He would of­ten make pris­on­ers suf­fer from the cold. That’s what he did to me first. They put me in a cell next to an exit and left the door open in freez­ing tem­per­a­tures.

When I de­clared a hunger strike, they stuck my head in a toi­let four times and a group of ten men (some of them were watch­ing) beat me. They keep you in con­stant fear. They don’t let you die, they make you suf­fer con­stantly. You never know when it will hap­pen next and I of­ten thought of sui­cide.

Not only do they beat you, they take away your right to ba­sic hy­giene. When I told them I had the right to a tooth­brush, they beat me and threat­ened me with rape. They never raped me but I am sure that peo­ple were raped in that prison.

I was so hun­gry there. You don’t feel the hunger straight away. It comes over time, from con­stant mal­nour­ish­ment. I dreamt about my lawyer com­ing and bring­ing ham­burg­ers. In

just two months, I went from weigh­ing 75 ki­los to just 55 be­cause of the cold, the stress and the phys­i­cal pain.

Upon my re­lease, I thought about leav­ing the coun­try. But the mo­ment I heard peo­ple be­ing tor­tured around me, I un­der­stood that stay­ing in Rus­sia was the right thing to do.

I knew I would even­tu­ally get out, but some peo­ple will stay there for ten years or more. I know there are real crim­i­nals there, mur­der­ers and so on. But I also know that there are in­no­cent peo­ple there who are vic­tims of our de­fi­cient jus­tice sys­tem. There are also peo­ple who are guilty of a crime but do not de­serve any­thing close to the long sen­tences they re­ceive or the crim­i­nal tor­ture they en­dure. I can’t live with the thought of run­ning away while those peo­ple are suf­fer­ing.

My first mis­sion is to fight the tor­ture in Kare­lia. I want to see those sadists who tor­tured me and oth­ers be­hind bars. There are two pos­si­ble out­comes. Ei­ther the state will pro­tect them. That would send a pow­er­ful sig­nal for other pris­ons. It would say “we tor­tured, we are tor­tur­ing and we will tor­ture.” Or maybe the state will show that, some­times, the law works.

I want Rus­sia to be a law-abid­ing coun­try not only on pa­per. State au­thor­i­ties al­low this law­less­ness and want the peo­ple to re­main quiet.

I am ap­peal­ing to the ac­tive mi­nor­ity that wants to make the coun­try a bet­ter place, we need to unite to fight this evil. The rest of so­ci­ety, the ma­jor­ity, will be bet­ter off when their rights are not in­fringed upon.

My faith is in good, nor­mal, peo­ple.

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