Russia: anti-torture bill in the Duma

The Russian government supports a bill introduced to the Duma that explicitly makes torture by police officers, investigators or in the penal system a serious criminal offence. The bill is the Kremlin's response to repeated allegations of torture, for example when videos of cruelty in a prison in Saratov recently became public. Can the law really put an end to these practices?

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Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

Now the evil is becoming tangible

For Radio Kommersant FM this is a breakthrough:

“The term 'torture' will enter the Criminal Code. This is an important political moment, because previously - in the Soviet Union and then in the Russian Federation - this phenomenon was negated on principle. Just as there was no drug addiction or prostitution. And if torture didn't exist, it couldn't be punished. When facts emerged, the authorities tried to pass them off as something else so as not to damage the state's prestige.”

Ekho Moskvy (RU) /

This system won't end torture

Echo of Moscow does not believe that the legislation will make a real impact:

“The law will be adopted - but then what? No law can simply rid a society of its vices all of a sudden. Letters and paragraphs alone can't catch and punish criminals. The dismissal of civil servants sends a signal, so does the law. But we still need the main signal: that they are going to start to really punish sadists and stop torturing people. Is that possible? No - only in theory. But in practice, power in Russia is based on the repressive system in all its forms. ... Prison is an important element of deterrence. ... The torturing will not disappear. There will just be a few show trials.”