The 2015 killing of Boris Nemtsov shocked Russians, and now photographs posted online of the man who assassinated him apparently posing in front of a slap-up meal are generating considerable anger.
The images, taken in an Irkutsk penal colony, show Zaur Dadaev and a group of other men surrounded by kebabs, soups, fruits, and juices. In response, Russian prison authorities have launched an investigation to determine the conditions in which he is being held.
Grilled kebabs, apples and fruit juice. Boris Nemtsov’s assassin, Zaur Dadayev, (back left, standing) relaxing with friends in a Russian penal colony.(Pic from 2018, just discovered by Russian press on social media) pic.twitter.com/VTH3mmjk8P
— Tom Parfitt (@parfitt_tom) February 12, 2020
They will also look into whether Dadaev, a former security official, used a mobile phone at the facility, where he was kept before being transferred to prison. The last sign-in to his account on social network Odnoklassniki was on July 8, 2018.
Photos supposedly of Dadaev’s group were published on another Russian platform, VKontakte, which is regarded as analogous to Facebook. The pictures are dated July 3, 2018. Back then, Dadaev was being held in a maximum-security penal colony in Irkutsk, in Eastern Siberia. He was later transferred to a facility in nearby Angarsk for a year, and then returned to Irkutsk.
In 2017, Dadaev was handed a 20-year sentence for murdering Nemtsov, near the Kremlin in Moscow, in February of 2015. Four co-accused were given terms of between 11 and 19 years, with the purported organizers of the killing, Ruslan Geremeev, and Ruslan Mukhudinov, placed on the wanted list.
Nemtsov was a politician and businessman, most associated with Russia’s tumultuous 1990s, who served as a deputy prime minister in the Boris Yeltsin era. He remained active in the liberal opposition movement.
The story has reminded many Russians of another prison ‘banquet’ scandal, involving Vyacheslav Tsepovyaz, one of the country’s most ruthless thugs who conducted a reign of terror in the southern Krasnodar region. The gangster, jailed for sending a death squad to butcher 12 people, including four children, was photographed tucking into crab meat and caviar at a penal colony in the Far East.
Dadaev’s lawyer claims he has done nothing wrong. “It was clearly not Zaur who took the photos,” Roza Magomedova told Moscow daily MK. “He calls me sometimes, but from a landline phone. The last time we spoke was in January. Overall, he has lost a lot of weight, his relatives are far away and cannot bring him food and other groceries. So I don’t understand why people are writing that he is overindulging. In what, apples?”
Meanwhile, a source in the Prison Service explained that all of the food featured in the images can be bought in prison shops. “There is no exotic food or delicacies on the tables. It’s not caviar and crabs like in photos with Tsepovyaz,” MK quoted them as saying. “I was confused only by how the photos were taken. [Was it] on a mobile phone? That is prohibited.”