Deputy head of Russia's penitentiary system reportedly resigns after criticizing press policy changes
Valery Maximenko, the deputy head of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN), has reportedly submitted a resignation letter. The outlets Daily Storm and RBC both learned of the resignation from anonymous sources and said it was related to the arrival of a new director, Alexander Kalashnikov, at FSIN.
A source for Daily Storm also asserted that Maximenko resigned in part because he implicitly critiqued a new FSIN policy that forbids employees from speaking on behalf of the agency. Instead, all press inquiries must be submitted in writing, after which they receive a written response in the course of seven days.
During a November 15 interview with the radio station Govorit Moskva, Maximenko said the ban on speaking directly with the press would enable him and other officials to feel less discomfort when commenting on FSIN’s actions. He cited a recent incident in which an agency official who was caught on video forcing a prisoner’s head into a toilet was subsequently promoted. “Honestly tell me — how can you comment on such a thing? The shame makes you want the ground to swallow you up. You’re just ashamed to death. But a piece of paper — well, a piece of paper can tolerate [the shame].”
Maximenko has worked at FSIN since 2012 and has a history of responding to torture in Russia’s penitentiary facilities.