According to an opinion published on the website of the Russian Interior Ministry, Sergei Saveliev – a Belarusian national – is wanted in connection with an unspecified criminal case.
Savelyev smuggled shocking images of abuse from a downtown Saratov prison. Fearing reprisals, he fled Russia in February and arrived in France last week, where he applied for asylum.
While serving a 7.5 year sentence for drug trafficking, he worked as a computer maintenance worker, gaining access to the prison’s internal server and those of other prisons, where he found several videos. .
He saved them on a USB stick which he hid near the exit of the prison.
Some of the videos were later posted by Russian rights groups Gulagu.net, prompting an official investigation and the sacking of several officials.
Savelyev said that although the Interior Ministry did not provide details of why he was wanted, he believed it was for “revealing state secrets”.
“They take the only path they know, the path of strength,” he said in a video from France posted by Gulagu.net.
The Russian authorities are trying to “shut my mouth”.
“It’s a shame that instead of using the time to reform the system and investigate all this terrible evidence that we have given them, they are trying to hide the truth,” he added.
Torture and sexual violence against inmates has long been systemic in Russia’s vast prison system, prison guards say, but the videos have shed new light on the abuse.
© 2021 AFP