A North Ossetian former police officer, sentenced to 16 years in a high-security prison for the murder of his ex-wife, is alleged to have been recruited by a Russian army regiment and sent to Russian-occupied eastern Ukraine. A video circulating on social media suggests that the man has since been detained for possession of drugs.
Pavel Chikov, head of the Russian rights group Agora, reported on 17 November that Vladikavkaz-born Vadim Tekhov ‘had been detained for selling drugs’ to soldiers in Russia-controlled areas of Ukraine.
While living in Vladikavkaz, Tekhov was accused of physically abusing his first wife, illegally possessing drugs, and using a knife in a fight, and was sent to a penal colony in 2019 after murdering his 22-year-old ex-wife.
A video of a man, identified by Chikov and a number of Russian media outlets as Vadim Tekhov, being interrogated by an unseen Russian-speaker was shared on social media on 17 November. The speaker has been widely assumed to be a Russian law enforcement agent. The original source of the video has not been made public.
In the video, Tekhov provides his address in Vladikavkaz, the capital city of North Ossetia, admits to ‘being inebriated’ when detained, and is questioned over a package of drugs on a table next to him.
Roksana Gagiyeva, the victim’s sister, also identified the man in the video as Vadim Tekhov, and said she was determined to find out why he had been released from prison.
A Vladikavkaz court sentenced Vadim Tekhov to 16 years in a high-security prison in February of last year but, according to the Russian human rights defender, Tekhov was released after enlisting in the Wagner Group in September to fight against Ukraine.
Russia recently made amendments to federal law that allow prison inmates to be recruited to a special regiment before the end of their sentences, and there have been multiple reports of Russian convicts being sent to fight in Ukraine. The Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organisation run by Evgeny Prigozhin, an influential Russian businessperson close to the Kremlin, is understood to have pioneered this initiative.
In exchange for fighting against the Ukrainian army, Russian prisoners are reportedly offered a salary, freedom after six months, and the promise of a full pardon.
Vadim Tekhov was a member of the Vladikavkaz police force until he left his position in 2012, in an apparent exchange for charges of physically assaulting his first wife being dropped.
In 2018, Tekhov was prosecuted for two additional crimes: possession of illegal drugs and taking part in a group fight against several Ingush men in which he used a knife as a weapon. A year later, despite supposedly being under house arrest, Tekhov attacked his ex-wife, leading to her death.
A murder that shook North Ossetia
On 8 September 2019, 31-year-old Vadim Tekhov came to his former wife’s workplace in Vladikavkaz and stabbed her with a knife around ten times.
The attack on Regina Gagiyeva was filmed by a CCTV camera at her office and shared widely online.
22-year-old Gagiyeva, who had earlier sought police protection from her ex-husband, died from the wounds six days later, having not regained consciousness.
The murder shocked the North Ossetian public, and ignited a wave of local women’s rights movements led by the Xotæ (‘sisters’) movement. Public condemnation intensified after it became known that Gagiyeva had sought help from police since November 2017, and that on the day of the attack, 31-year-old Tekhov was supposed to be under house arrest.
The court hearing that followed Gagiyeva’s death revealed that Tekhov had gone to his wife’s place of work and assaulted Gagiyeva several times before the fatal attack on 18 September 2019, despite wearing an electronic tracker.
Speaking to independent Russian media outlet MediaZona, Gagiyeva’s sister claimed that local police had refused to prosecute Tekhov for repeatedly assaulting his wife in 2017, dismissing the case as ‘a family matter’.