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Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service lashes out at television channel ‘France 24’ over its coverage of Siberian prison riot

Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service in the Irkutsk region has accused French television channel France 24 of provocations, over its coverage of the April 9th riot at Penal Colony No.15 in the Siberian city of Angarsk. 

The department’s statement refers to a video report that France 24 released on May 20. The Federal Penitentiary Service claims that the report is based on inaccurate information from citizens “interested in the destabilization of the situation” in the Russian penitentiary system. 

The Federal Penitentiary Service denies claims that participants in the riot were denied access to their lawyers, and that their families had received no news of their conditions. The department also noted that the France 24 film crew did not have access to the prison colony because of the coronavirus, and that the journalists’ were given written responses to their questions.

“We consider the unfair and deceitful position of the television channel France 24 a provocation, aimed at destabilizing the social climate in Russia,” the Federal Penitentiary Service concluded.

According to France 24’s report, the relatives of inmates and human rights defenders say that they have not had access to Penal Colony No.15 for a long time, and that lawyers have not been able to get in contact with their clients. France 24 also said that a film crew from the Russian state-owned television channel Rossiya 1 were allowed access to the prison colony, regardless of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. 

Last week, Russian Federal Penitentiary Service employees admitted to the “use of force and police instruments” to suppress the riot at the penal colony in Angarsk. After the riot, several hundred prisoners were transferred to Pre-Trial Detention Center No.1 in Irkutsk. Human rights defenders and lawyers said that the detention center’s staff beat them, with the consent of the Russian Investigative Committee and the Prosecutor’s Office.

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