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Russian police routinely torture or abuse as many as half of their suspects often using electroshock and asphyxiation techniques a new study says A two-year investigation by Human Rights Watch an independent New York-based group found disturbing evidence that Russian police are torturing suspects with almost complete impunity while prosecutors are closing their eyes to the widespread practice There is overwhelming evidence that torture has become an integral part of police practice The group reached this conclusion after interviewing more than 50 victims in five regions of Russia It also interviewed dozens of judges lawyers prosecutors former police officers and relatives of the torture victims Some experts cited in the report say the use of torture techniques has increased dramatically in the past 10 years The courts commonly accept forced confessions at face value and use them as a basis for convictions Some former police officers said they believe it is impossible to solve crimes without torture The prolonged beating of suspects is the most common form of police torture in Russia But police also use several other elaborate torture techniques In one technique a suspect is handcuffed to a chair while a gas mask or plastic bag is placed over his head and his oxygen supply is cut off The technique is known as the elephant because the gas masks hose resembles an elephants trunk One detainee in the town of Saransk died as a result of this torture In the electroshock technique police use a hand-cranked machine that resembles an old-fashioned field telephone An electric current is transmitted by electrodes clamped to the suspects ears In another position known as the envelope the detainee is forced to sit with his head between his bent knees with his hands tied to his feet A suspect in the
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