Russia took an important step forward in July 1998 when, in accordance with undertakings made when Russia joined the Council of Europe, responsibility for the prison service was transferred from the semi-militarized Ministry of Internal Affairs to the Justice Ministry. Human rights activists complain, however, that the most serious human rights violations tend to take place not in prison but in the first couple of hours after a suspect is detained and is being kept in a police lock-up. During that time, it is common for the police to use virtually any method to try to beat a confession out of the suspect. A report published earlier this month by the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW). finds that Russian police routinely torture people in custody in order to force them to confess. The report also finds that Russian courts commonly accept these forced confessions as grounds for conviction, With only a few exceptions, Russian police are not prosecuted or even reprimanded. The report is based on a two-year study including more than fifty interviews with torture victims in five regions across Russia (http://www. hrw.org.campaigns/russia/torture/).
KARABAKH PEACE PROCESS SET BACK AT OSCE SUMMIT.