Story By: Sergey Panashchuck, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Russian prison authorities have clamped down after pictures of a member of a brutal crime gang were posted online showing him enjoying caviar and barbecued crab in jail.
According to local media, the man seen in the photos – identified as Vyacheslav Tsepovyaz – received a 20-year sentence for his part in the murder of 12 people, including four minors, in 2013.
The massacre took place in the village of Kushchyovskaya in the southern Russian region of Krasnodar Krai in November 2010.
He was part of a 10-man gang led by Sergei Tsapok, who suffered a stroke in July 2014 and died in prison while serving his life sentence, according to reports.
The gang were linked in with many other murders that took place between 1998 and 2010.
The newly released photos show Tsepovyaz tucking into barbecued crab and caviar, and sparked outrage at his enjoying a lavish lifestyle behind bars.
However, the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) said that the photos were taken in 2015 and have recently surfaced after his ex-wife handed them over to lawyers last summer.
A FSIN spokesperson said: “We believe the photos surfaced because the couple is in the middle of dividing their property.”
However, the spokesperson confirmed that the photos are authentic and said that an investigation was carried out last year, adding that Tsepovyazov is now serving his sentence “under harsh conditions”.
According to local media, two of the gang’s principal hitmen were Vladimir Alexeyev and Igor Chernykh, who both received life sentences.
Vyacheslav Tsepovyaz and Nikolai Tsapok both received 20 years and Vladimir Zaporozhets was sentenced to 19 years.