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Mass murder in Nizhny Novgorod How a father killed his own 6 kids, wife, and mother

Meduza
Photo: Alexander Volozhanin / RIA Novosti / Scanpix

The city of Nizhny Novgorod recently witnessed a horrific mass murder that claimed the lives of six children, as well as the kids’ mother and grandmother. Police later detained the father, who’s suspected of committing the crime. Meduza summarizes the main facts of this tragedy.

Chronology. On July 25, 2015, the children of the Belov family stopped coming to school. On July 27, the kids’ father, Oleg Belov, stopped by to collect their things, saying he was taking them to the countryside for the summer. On August 4, officers from the Investigative Committee raided Belov’s apartment, where they found the bodies of seven people: six children and their mother. A few hours later, the body of the children’s grandmother—Oleg Belov’s own mother—was also discovered. Later that same day, Oleg was apprehended and brought into custody. He had tried and failed to hide out in his mother-in-law’s garden cottage, near the town of Vladimir. When police found him, Oleg attacked them with a knife, and was wounded while being detained. After a brief hospital stay in Kovrov, he was transferred to a facility in Nizhny Novgorod, where he regained consciousness and started begging forgiveness.

What do we know about Oleg Belov? Not much. He’s 52 years old, unemployed, and disabled. Until about 2007, he attended services at the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Belov was registered at the local mental hospital, and his family was formally regarded by local officials as underprivileged and in need of assistance. In 2011, Belov was suspected of abusing his own children, but the case was later dropped. In July 2015, Belov’s wife filed for a divorce and asked a judge to grant her full custody of their children, but her request was denied.

The investigation. Investigators plan to begin interrogating Belov as soon as his health improves. Police say they already have the murder weapon. Investigators have also launched a criminal case against Igor Kriuchov, the head of the local children’s services department, accusing him of negligence. According to investigators’ statements to the press, local officials bear some of the responsibility for the massacre. Police have also raided the offices of Seventh-day Adventist Church, both in Nizhny Novgorod and elsewhere.

Rumors. There are a lot of them. Belov’s mother-in-law insists that he suffers from schizophrenia. Belov’s neighbors, meanwhile, say Belov and his wife used to get into heated arguments, and that his wife even asked for their help. Local reporters say Belov may be involved in the murder of a young woman in 2014, as well. There is also speculation that he was planning to murder his mother-in-law, when police apprehended him in Vladimir.

Investigators versus police. After charging Kriuchov with negligence, investigators opened similar cases against six police officers in Nizhny Novgorod, based on evidence that Belov’s spouse, before her murder, complained several times to local law enforcement that her husband beat her and endangered their children, without police taking any action. Two of the officers charged with negligence are currently in jail, while a third is under house arrest. The other three remain free, for now. In response, nine officers from the Nizhny Novgorod precinct resigned in protest against the charges, in solidarity with their fellow cops.