Russian facing extremism charges alleges police torture

A defendant in a controversial Russian extremism case has accused the police of beating and sexually assaulting him in order to obtain a confession, the latest accusation of police torture in a high-profile trial in the country.

In a courtroom statement on Friday, Ruslan Kostylenkov accused five police officers of tying him to a chair, beating him in the kidneys, and then sodomising him with the handle of a kitchen mallet so that he would confess on camera to belonging to an anarchist organisation.

After the incident, a police officer “sat with me during my interrogation and virtually dictated my testimony to the investigator”, Kostylenkov said in the statement, which was provided to the Guardian before Friday’s hearing.

The alleged torture left him defecating and urinating blood for days, he said.

Kostylnekov is one of seven defendants in the “New Greatness” case, which could lead to several of them being imprisoned for creating a youth organisation that sought to overthrow the government.

He faces a possible jail sentence of up to seven and a half years if convicted, and prosecutors have also asked for jail sentences of more than six years for two other defendants. The youngest defendant at the time of the arrest was 17 . The case has sparked protests.

The prosecution has relied heavily on the testimony of a police officer who infiltrated the group and then helped insert two other undercover informants. Supporters of the group say they have been framed on trumped-up charges and were provoked by police.

Memorial, a Russian human rights group, has called the defendants political prisoners.

“Having attentively studied the materials of the case, we have concluded that the New Greatness association was, essentially, set up by Russian security services,” the organisation wrote in 2018. “It was they who strove to give the organisation an extremist character.”

Russia’s FSB security agency has been accused previously of torturing anarchist and leftist subjects in order to obtain confessions. A group of seven anti-fascist and anarchist activists were given harsh prison terms in February in a domestic terrorism case marred by claims that investigators had tortured four of the defendants with beatings and electric shocks.

Kostylenkov’s note, which detailed torture allegations for the first time, was provided to a friend in March. It ended with the words: “Hold on to my story and we will publish it at the right moment. Now is not the time.”