On of Russia's most infamous gangsters, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence, has been placed in solitary confinement after photos of him receiving privileged treatment circulated on the Internet.
Vyacheslav Tsepovyaz's lawyer Elbrus Murtazov criticized the decision, saying on November 8 that it was made "for unclear reasons."
Tsepovyaz, a member of the notorious Tsapok gang, which terrorized a rural farming community in southern Russia, could be seen in photos sitting in a room with a big television set, eating crab and caviar, and grilling meat.
Federal Penitentiary Service officials said on November 8 that the pictures were taken in 2015, two years after Tsepovyaz was convicted, adding that he was placed in "a punitive isolation cell" for violation of the prison’s internal regulations.
The Prosecutor-General’s office said an investigation was launched against members of the prison administration suspected of providing Tsepovyaz with the privileges.
The Tsapok gang operated in the community of Kushchyovskaya, a town in the Krasnodar Krai region, from the late 1990s until 2010.
Members of the gang were found guilty of numerous kidnappings, robberies, a series of murders, including the brutal slaying of a wealthy farmer and 11 other people in 2010 that provoked a nationwide outcry, leading to the arrests of the gang leader and other high-ranking members, including Tsepovyaz.
The case also sparked controversy after investigations revealed the group's ties to local Russian officials.