PRIMORSKY KRAI, Russia -- Investigators in Russia's Far East have announced that a member of the gang dubbed the "Russian Rambos" has confessed to four murders, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.
Aleksandr Kovtun is one of a group of six men who allegedly attacked police in May and early June. He and the three other surviving members of the gang were initially charged with three armed attacks in which two policemen were killed.
Also in court in Primorsky Krai on July 27, Kovtun's lawyer, Tatyana Uvarova, was removed from the case on the grounds that she witnessed the police's storming of the building where the gang members were hiding.
Two members of the group, Andrei Sukhorad and Aleksandr Sladkikh, died during that attack. Investigators say they committed suicide.
Uvarova believes she was removed from the case because she alerted the media to alleged moral and physical pressure exerted on her client. She has since circulated a video in which Kovtun describes how he was tortured by police.
Kovtun claimed, among other things, that police beat him and put a plastic bag over his head until he signed a confession. Investigators said on July 28 that Kovtun has since retracted that statement.
The gang, also referred to as "Primorye Partisans," were apprehended after thousands of law enforcement agents took part in one of the largest manhunts in Russia in recent years.
Many local people attribute their alleged attacks on the police to widespread police misconduct against citizens.