MOSCOW, September 30 (RIA Novosti) – A former paratrooper jailed for butchering Central Asian migrant workers in a gruesome vendetta was detained Monday after spending four months on the run from a maximum security prison in eastern Siberia, officials said.
Though Vladimir Avdeyev was nicknamed “Rambo of the Taiga” by Russian media, the 38-year-old was overtaken too fast to offer any resistance, the Irkutsk Region branch of the Federal Prison Service said on its website.
Avdeyev said he spent the entire time in the forest, had no contact with other people and subsided on whatever nourishment he could forage in the wilderness, the region’s police said. The Komsomolskaya Pravda daily said he might have been turned in to police by local foresters for whom he worked as a logger.
Avdeyev was said to possess enormous physical strength – his favorite pastime during parties was reportedly breaking bricks and champagne bottles on his forehead – as well as survival skills that enabled him “to hold out in the taiga for a month with a knife and a single match,” according to a prosecutor cited by the local news site Vsp.ru.
“He can kill any number of people with his bare hands … and will not be taken alive,” a former comrade-in-arms was cited as saying by Vsp.ru after Avdeyev’s escape in May, when the ex-serviceman and three other inmates fled the prison through a 30-meter-long tunnel. The other three were all back behind bars by August.
Avdeyev was serving a 25-year prison sentence he was given in 2006 for spearheading an attack on migrant workers in his home village in the Irkutsk Region. Two victims were decapitated with spades, and four others were locked in a shed that was set on fire. However, those four survived the burning but were disfigured, local media reported at the time.
Locals alleged that the Tajik migrants were killing local youth by drugging them and staging their suicides, and asserted that Avdeyev and his accomplices were rightful vigilantes, Baikalpress.ru reported in 2006.
However, most victims of the vendetta were recently arrived Uzbeks whom the attackers confused with Tajiks, investigators said at the time, insisting that the suicides were real, not staged.
The ex-serviceman now faces five more years in prison for his escape, which has also prompted criminal cases against the prison’s administration for neglecting duties.