Yablokov

Maksim Yablokov (left) is shown at a court hearing in Yaroslavl on July 25, 2018.
The second of at least 17 Russian prison guards charged in a high-profile inmate torture case has been sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison.

A court in Yaroslavl, some 250 kilometers northeast of Moscow, on January 17 convicted Maksim Yablokov of abuse of authority for beating three inmates. The court handed down the sentence the same day.

Two days earlier, former prison guard Sergei Yefremov, who made a deal with investigators, was sentenced to four years in prison.

Yablokov, who also made a deal with investigators, was arrested along with other prison guards of the Correctional Colony No. 1 in Yaroslavl in 2018 in the wake of public outcry after the Moscow-based independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta released a video that showed a group of guards severely beating an inmate as he was pinned face down on a table.

Russian authorities announced at the time that similar complaints by inmates across Russia would be investigated.

Another probe was launched months later into the alleged torture of 25 inmates in a second prison in the Yaroslavl region.

The cases have shone a spotlight on what activists say is widespread abuse and torture in Russian prisons.

Valery Maksimenko, deputy head of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN), said in 2018 that the country needs more prisons to hold police officers, prison guards, and other law enforcement agents who have been convicted of crimes.

He said that two new prisons that were opened for such prisoners earlier in 2018 were already full.

"It looks like an anti-corruption effort is under way, a cleansing is under way," Maksimenko said.

In Russia and some other former Soviet republics, convicted former law enforcement officers, prison guards, judges, and prosecutors serve their terms in detention facilities that are separate from regular prisons.