MOSCOW -- Russia has issued an arrest warrant for a former prison inmate who has admitted to releasing graphic video evidence of hundreds of cases of inmate torture by other inmates at the direction of prison officials.
The Interior Ministry on October 23 issued the warrant without specifying the crime that the Belarus-born Syarhey Savelyeu is accused of.
According to the prisoners’ rights NGO Gulagu.net, which published some of the videos and reported on their contents, Moscow intends to send documentation on Savelyeu to Interpol to seek his extradition.
After leaking the videos, Savelyeu left Russia and is seeking political asylum in France.
Gulagu.net founder Vladimir Osechkin told RFE/RL that his organization will forward all the materials it received from Savelyeu to authorities in France. He also said his group will ask Interpol to suspend Russia’s participation in the network until the country’s prison and judicial systems have been reformed and torture rooted out.
Five senior prison officials have been fired since Gulagu.net published the videos earlier this month.
As an inmate, Savelyeu -- an IT specialist -- helped operate a prison computer network that gave him access to the videos.
Gulagu.net has said guards and other prison officials bribed or forced inmates to torture other inmates in order to secure false testimony. The videos purportedly show hundreds of cases of rape and other torture at Russian prisons and pretrial detention centers in several regions.
In an interview with Gulagu.net, Savelyeu said he believes Russia will seek to charge him with disclosing state secrets.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened seven criminal cases in connection with the leaked videos.