MOSCOW (Reuters) – The founder of a prominent rights group that monitors and reveals abuses in Russia’s prison system said on Friday he had been placed on a wanted list by Russian authorities.
Vladimir Osechkin, founder of the Gulagu.net rights group, appeared in an interior ministry database of individuals wanted by Russia on Friday.
“Once again they have shown the whole world how they abuse their power and authority,” Osechkin, who has lived in France since 2015, wrote on Facebook.
The database did not specify what crime Osechkin was wanted for. The interior ministry did not reply to a Reuters request for comment.
Osechkin, 40, said it was the second time he had been placed on the wanted list. He said his lawyers had sent him a copy of the materials against him.
“I have never stolen anything from anyone and have acted within the legal framework to expose corruption and torture as part of the Gulagu.net activity,” he added.
Gulagu.net said earlier this year it had received a massive leak of documents, photos and videos proving that hundreds of people across the prison system had been tortured and raped by other inmates directed by prison officials.
The release of some of the footage prompted Russian authorities to fire several prison officials and open criminal investigations into torture and sexual assaults.
Russia later added Sergei Savelyev, a Belarusian national who leaked the videos to Gulagu.net, to its wanted list. The charged against him were dropped for reasons that were not disclosed by the authorities, Osechkin said on social media this week.
Savelyev, a programmer who helped to operate the local computer network and video cameras while serving time in a prison, is now seeking political asylum in France.
“We will expose their terrible crimes against humanity, show the world, tell them about their torture conveyors and stop this outrage,” Osechkin wrote, referring to prison authorities. “Even if I have to risk my life.”
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, Polina Devitt and Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Mark Trevelyan)