Khanty-Mansiysk, February 22, Interfax - Investigative bodies have launched a probe into the information on the alleged torture of detained members of the religious organization Jehovah's Witnesses (banned in Russia), during questionings in Surgut, Oleg Menshikh, senior aide to the head of the Russian Investigative Committee's Investigations Directorate for the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District, told Interfax.
"We still don't have any official statements on torture. However, considering the frenzy caused by this information's publication in the media, a decision was made to conduct a pre-investigation probe," Menshikh said.
The investigators who worked with the detainees and the Jehovah's Witnesses themselves will be questioned in the course of the probe, he said.
In the meantime, the office of Natalya Strebkova, the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District's human rights commissioner, said the human rights commissioner has also begun a probe and plans to meet with the Jehovah's Witnesses.
Local media reported earlier, citing the website Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, that detained members of the organization had been tortured during questioning in Surgut.
In February, the Surgut law enforcement authorities closed down the local cell of Jehovah's Witnesses. Its most active members were detained and a criminal case was opened.