Russia arrests mastermind of village massacre: Official

Russia has arrested the mastermind of the slaughter of 12 people in a house in a farming village reportedly terrorised for years by organised crime.

Updated: Nov 16, 2010, 12:57 PM IST

Moscow: Russia has arrested the mastermind
of the slaughter of 12 people in a house in a farming village
reportedly terrorised for years by organised crime, officials
said on Tuesday.

In a crime that stunned Russia, a criminal gang stabbed
to death 10 victims and suffocated two others in the seemingly
quiet village of Kushchevskaya in the southern Krasnodar
region.

Four children, one of them a baby, were among the dead.
Investigators had already announced the arrest of four
young people, including two teenagers, suspected of being
members of the criminal group behind the crime.

"The leader of the criminal group Sergei Tsapok was
arrested as part of the enquiry into the massacre," a
spokesman for the investigative committee of prosecutors told
a news agency.

The police have also arrested another member of the
group suspected of the crime, named as Sergei Tsepovyaz, the
official added.

A statement from the investigative committee said that
Tsapok was suspected of being the "organiser" of the massacre.

"Investigators are looking at evidence about the
activities of a criminal group in the Krasnodar region which
they are receiving from locals," the statement added.

"Investigators are looking at evidence about the
activities of a criminal group in the Krasnodar region which
they are receiving from locals," the statement added.

It said that many locals had responded to a request by
investigators for information.

According to reports in the Russian press, Tsapok had
formed a criminal gang of several dozen members which had
terrorised the region for 20 years with the police powerless
or unwilling to intervene.

"The village of Kushchevskaya, which appears so quiet,
has in fact been living under the yoke of bandits for the last
20 years," said the pro-government Russian daily Izvestia.

It quoted a source close to the investigation as saying
that the family of a local lawmaker was behind the gang.

The house belonged to a farmer named Serever Ametov, 51,
who had invited a group of friends to celebrate Russia`s
National Unity Day on November 4 and then stay over. The
bodies were found on November 5.

Ametov, his wife Galina, his daughter-in-law Yelena and
granddaughter Amira, who was born this year, were all killed.

Another of the dead, Vladimir Mironenko, was the finance
director at leading Russian agricultural firm Aston, and there
had been speculation the killings were linked to his business
activities.

PTI