Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired the prison service head after videos of torture and rape emerged in prison last month. The malpractice took place at the Saratov prison in southwestern Russia.
Aleksandr Kalashnikov was in charge of Russian prisons for two years until his resignation. He was under pressure from the West because of the treatment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in prison. Arkady Gostev, a police officer, has replaced Kalashnikov.
The prison service has fired eighteen employees because of the abuses, and an investigation has been launched.
The video footage was smuggled out of prison by former prisoner Sergei Savaljev. After he revealed the images, he left Russia. Savaljev has applied for asylum in France.
Savaljev was able to obtain the images because he worked in IT in prison and thus had access to the video files recorded by surveillance cameras. He then put the images on a USB stick, which he hid until he was released.
According to human rights groups, torture and rape are widespread in Russian prisons.