A man living in Siberia said officers planted drugs on him and forced him to confess. A week later, he was found with his head cut off.
Dmitry Fyodorov said Russian National Guard troops framed him for drug trafficking
The 25-year-old Omsk resident played drums in a rock band and worked installing smart home systems as a manager for a local IT company. He was preparing to marry his fiancée, Lyudmila Troitskaya, in early January of 2020: The two lived together and had been dating for seven years.
On December 15, Fyodorov went to a work meeting to transfer some equipment to a coworker who was scheduled to install it. The young manager said in a social media video that after the meeting, a group of Russian National Guard officers approached him in a Lada Granta and told him that he matched surveillance data for a criminal suspect. Fyodorov said he was then asked to place the contents of his coat pockets on the hood of the car, but when he started doing just that, one of the National Guard officers put his hand into an outer pocket, and a small bag fell to the ground. The officer ordered Fyodorov to pick it up, and the young man obeyed, though he said he had never seen the bag before. The officers simultaneously pulled four bags out of another pocket. Fyodorov said those packets did not belong to him either.
In an interview with Meduza, Lyudmila Troitskaya added that the officers told Fyodorov on the spot that he had been accused of selling drugs. They began threatening to jail him, and they took away his phone. As Fyodorov later explained, the officers offered to let him confess to drug dealing on video in exchange for a suspended sentence. He consented. Igor Suslin, Fyodorov’s attorney, confirmed that police officers took a video of his client confessing. However, he still wasn’t released.
Fyodorov spent the night at a police station. There, he said officers pushed him to say he had not only been transporting drugs the previous day but that he had made 15 deliveries to a particular address. Under physical and psychological pressure, Fyodorov caved to that demand as well. According to Suslin, Fyodorov said he was then taken to the “scene of the crime,” where police officers showed him where he had supposedly stashed the drugs.
Only then was Fyodorov offered a state-appointed attorney, who advised him to do everything the police officers asked and then left almost immediately. At about 7:00 PM on December 16, Fyodorov was released from the police office. By then, he was officially a suspect in a felony drug dealing case. Suslin, who began working on the case soon afterward, said Fyodorov was told a nationwide warrant would be issued for his arrest if he told anybody about what had happened to him. However, Fyodorov still told his fiancée and a close friend that he had been framed for drug distribution and forced to confess.
On December 18, Dmitry Fyodorov posted a short video on the social network VKontakte saying a narcotics case had been fabricated against him. He asked viewers to share the video and emphasized that anybody in Russia could find themselves facing the same situation.
Russian police and the National Guard opened an investigation into Fyodorov’s claims, but they continued to insist that he was a criminal
Lyudmila Troitskaya told Meduza that her fiancé was allowed to remain free under an agreement that he would not leave the area. After posting his video online, Fyodorov also began working with Troitskaya, his friends, and Igor Suslin to fight back and collect evidence of his innocence. Suslin pointed to a number of procedural errors in the paperwork of Fyodorov’s case. For example, the attorney said that Fyodorov’s case materials attest to a search in the young man’s apartment that never actually happened.
Meanwhile, police officers from the Omsk region branch of Russia’s Internal Affairs Ministry opened an investigation into Fyodorov’s accusation that Russian National Guard officers had planted drugs on him. They nonetheless wrote that investigators “have every reason to suspect this individual of participating in illegal actions.”
The National Guard also announced its own investigation. However, the announcement asserted that Fyodorov “became noticeably nervous as officers arrested him” and then admitted that he “works in pickup and delivery for an online store.”
Suslin said his client also submitted criminal complaints against the officers who arrested and interrogated him to the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Investigative Committee. The attorney emphasized that Fyodorov was prepared to undergo a polygraph test and other examinations in order to prove his innocence.
A week later, Fyodorov’s decapitated body was found near a railroad track, and investigators said he had committed suicide
On December 26, Dmitry Fyodorov was scheduled to meet with his attorney and visit the National Guard’s internal security division with him to submit another criminal complaint. Fyodorov had also set up a meeting for that day with Omsk City Council member Dmitry Petrenko. However, neither meeting ever took place. Instead, Fyodorov disappeared.
Petrenko and Suslin went to the police, who told them that Fyodorov’s body had been found decapitated by a set of railroad tracks. According to Suslin, the official account of his death was that he had committed suicide. Law-enforcement officials claimed that the 25-year-old had stood near the tracks and then stepped forward and knelt on the tracks as a train approached. The local outlet NGS55 reported that the train’s conductor confirmed that version of events.
The Omsk office of the Western Siberian Transport Investigative Headquarters has told journalists that while its investigation of the incident is not yet complete, its employees have not seen any indications that Fyodorov died a violent death.
Fyodorov’s friends and allies believe he may have been murdered
Lyudmila Troitskaya told a local news outlet that she believes her fiancé was killed. “It’s not hard to imagine how much blood there should have been if the train had decapitated him. There’s no blood there. At the spot where they found him, there’s no blood. He was brought there after he was already dead,” Troitskaya said.
The young woman clarified to Meduza that she has no specific accusations to make about how the murder occurred. “I don’t know who exactly might have done it. But it’s a definite fact that I don’t believe the suicide story,” she said.
Dmitry Petrenko, the local legislator, agreed. He saw Fyodorov’s body himself and said the manager’s injuries did not appear to be self-inflicted. “A straight cut across the neck and a leg injury. Personally, I was surprised that the train landed so precisely across the neck. It’s too unlikely an injury under these circumstances,” the councilmember said. However, NGS55 relayed comments from anonymous medical staff who said what they saw were “typical railroad injuries.”
In a conversation with Meduza, Petrenko said he strongly believes Fyodorov was killed, but he does not know who may have committed the murder. Petrenko added that Fyodorov “could have become Omsk’s Golunov, but he didn’t.” Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov was framed on drug charges in 2019 and freed after extensive public pressure. The Omsk councilmember now says he intends to examine Fyodorov’s case materials closely and find evidence against the individuals who may have fabricated it. “I want them to be punished,” Petrenko said.
Igor Suslin has not yet argued that Fyodorov did not die by suicide. “Even if it was suicide, then he was driven to a point of desperation,” the attorney said. Suslin declined to speak with Meduza. Lyudmila Troitskaya said she could not reveal what steps her fiancé’s defense team is planning next.
Translation by Hilah Kohen