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‘Who here has been tortured? Name yourselves.’ The Kremlin comments on a poll showing one in 10 Russians has been tortured by police

Source: Meduza
Alexander Nemenov / AFP / Scanpix / LETA

Meduza: Today is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Kommersant published a poll conducted by the Levada Center in which one in 10 Russians surveyed said they had encountered torture at the hands of law enforcement officials. Has the Kremlin familiarized itself with the results of the poll? Is it planning to take any measures to respond?

Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary for Vladimir Putin: We saw the poll. Who conducted it?

Meduza: The Levada Center (the only major non-state-owned polling agency in Russia — Meduza).

Peskov: The Levada Center. We saw reports in the press, but we haven’t yet read the piece itself and the analysis. We haven’t had time yet to familiarize ourselves with it.

 Meduza: In principle, would the Kremlin generally agree with these shocking figures or not?

Peskov: Look, right now, in this conference hall, are there around 30 people? There are. Who here has been tortured by law enforcement officials? Name yourselves.

Q: But not everyone here is from Russia.

Peskov: Fine. Name yourselves if you’re from Russia. There are more than 20 representatives of the Russian press here. Even the foreign press is represented by our citizens. Is there anyone who wants to name themselves? No. So, of course, we need to analyze this thoroughly.

Q: Mr. Peskov, just off the top of my head, Ivan Golunov comes to mind.

Peskov: Ivan Golunov comes to mind. That’s a single case. But I’m asking specifically. Ivan Golunov isn’t here in the conference hall. One in 10. There are more than 30 of us. You understand, I simply mean that, of course, we’ll have to analyze what this study was very carefully. The selection process, the exact wording of the question asked. In sociological terms, what methodology was used. Therefore, of course, I would prefer not to answer like this on a surface level. More questions, please.

Ekho Moskvy: Today is indeed the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. The president has commented multiple times on the Set’ case (a terrorism case against a group of young people who say they confessed under torture), so a trial is ongoing in which the defendants are describing how they were tortured, giving their version of events. First, has this information reached the president? Second, the president said he would attempt to deal with this situation — is he studying it at all? Given that today, people are talking [about torture] around the world. Perhaps there will be a statement of some kind?

Peskov: Associating the day against torture with the Set’ case is hardly warranted. It’s a different situation. It has also attracted widespread attention, and the president was informed about this case during the most recent meeting of the presidential Human Rights Council. At the time, the president did say that he would request additional information and deal with the case. The president received additional information from intelligence sources. He is in possession of that information, and he regularly receives updates to it. That’s all I can say.

Ekho Moskvy: Does it mention the torture? Or their claims at least? A detailed description?

Peskov: No, I’m telling you that there’s no point in associating that with today. There’s nothing there about torture. It’s a different situation. It’s about other things.

Ekho Moskvy: But the defendants in that case have said they were tortured.

Peskov: You’d have to ask law enforcement about that. I can’t answer that for you. What I can confirm is that the president is receiving information about this case as he promised during the Human Rights Council hearing.

Transcript recorded by Mikhail Zelensky

Translation by Hilah Kohen

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