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Anti-Torture Group Cites Concerns about Russian Prisons - 2003-06-30

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture says it has received a disturbing number of allegations of physical mistreatment of people in Russian detention centers and prisons.

In its first published report on Russian prisons, released in Strasbourg, France, on Monday, the committee noted efforts by Russian authorities to reduce the country's prison population. But it also expressed concern over the lack of natural light and fresh air in prison cells, as well as lack of medical treatment for sick inmates.

In response, Russia says it will ease overcrowding in prisons and remove shutters that block access to natural light and fresh air.

The report, released at the request of Russian authorities, contains findings and recommendations based on a visit to various Russian cities and regions in December 2001. The Committee for the Prevention of Torture has visited Russia 11 times since 1998.