Update: I’ve been contacted by a reader who stated the following: “If over 30 years 0.33% of the adult population – so one in 300 annually – experienced some sort of police violence, you can get to 10%. “
Fair enough. But if one has to stretch back 30 years in order to make the figures credible, then that would include the entire “Wild West” Yeltsin era. – Natylie
On June 26th – 27th, the western-owned Moscow Times, The Independent (UK), and the U.S.-government funded RFE/RL all published articles about a poll put out by the independent (i.e. western funded) Levada Center claiming that 10 percent of all Russians have been tortured by Russian authorities.
I’m not suggesting that Russia is Candyland or that police there don’t abuse their authority. I’m aware that there are problems in their criminal justice system – as there are in many other nations, including in the west. If the claim would have been that 10 percent of all prisoners in Russia had been tortured, it would have certainly been in the realm of the plausible. But 10 percent of the entire population of Russia smelled fishy to me.
Now, I’m no math whiz, but I really can’t surmise how one can make the numbers work.
Russia has an overall population of just under 145 million people. 10 percent of that would equal just over 14 million people. It sounds like the Levada poll is claiming that 14 million Russians have been tortured. According to prisonstudies.org, just over a half million Russians (552,188) were being criminally detained in Russia as of January of 2019. That figure includes pre-trial detainees and remanded prisoners. Additionally, the incarceration rate in Russia has been steadily declining since 2008.
It’s extremely unlikely that every Russian who has ever been detained in Putin-era Russia has been tortured, so considerably more than 14 million people had to have been detained by the authorities. Again, how does this add up?
Unfortunately, I don’t read Russian so I can’t read the original poll that was linked to. I’d be interested to know who was included in the sample population and how torture was defined, among other things.
If any readers have specialized knowledge of the Russian criminal justice system and can help me to understand how this could be accurate, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.
From what I have studied of the Russian criminal justice system, this doesn’t fit the gradual trend in the Putin era of trying to clean up the system and provide more protections for prisoners and the accused. That’s not to say that more doesn’t still need to be done, but there is a trend toward improvement.
Until I see credible evidence making this add up, I’m going to have to consider this claim to be very dubious.