The Russian parliament (Duma) has granted preliminary approval to a controversial bill—dubbed the “sadists’ law” by human rights activists and opposed lawmakers—that would allow prison staff to use truncheons, electric shock devices, and guard dogs against those who were perceived to have violated prison discipline. The law would allow guards to “use physical force, including combat methods of fighting, if non-forceful means cannot ensure that duties are fulfilled”, according to the text published on the Duma’s website. “If this bill becomes law in its current form, it means that prison staff will be able to beat a prisoner for the most minor of violations. A failure to make their beds properly or an undone button, for example”, the head of the Moscow-Helsinki Group of human rights campaigners, said. The bill comes on the heels of another proposal earlier this week to ban NGO’s designated as “foreign agents” from monitoring human rights in prisons.
Earlier in the week Putin announced that he was boosting the domestic War on Terror, a key part of his strategy to keep Russians fearful and himself in the role of benevolent and heavily armed ruler. Spillover of Islamic terror from the Caucasus remains a threat to Russia and to Putin’s rule, but we wouldn’t be surprised if Russia’s Sadist-in-Chief used those and other laws as much to stifle political opposition.