Russia-Ukraine War Leaves Tanzanian Family In Tears

Tanzanian Nemes Tarimo died in Ukraine while fighting for the Russians. His family wants his body brought to Tanzania.
Lukelo Francis19 January 20236 min

Dar es Salaam. The family of a Tanzanian national who died in Ukraine fighting for Russia under Wagner group is eagerly waiting to hear from the government when exactly will the body of its loved one be brought into the country for burial.

Nemes Tarimo,  31, was reportedly killed on October 24, 2022, in Bakhmut, a city in Ukraine where  fighting have intensified since last year between the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Armed Forces.

Members of Tarimo’s family told The Chanzo on Wednesday that they are closely communicating with the government to see if they can have the body of their loved one, hoping that the process would complete sooner than later.

“We are waiting for our government to, first, explain to us what actually led to the death of our beloved brother and, second, when will the body arrive here [in Tanzania],” Salome Kisale, Tarimo’s sister, told The Chanzo in an interview.

A mouners tent set infornt of Nemes Family home|Dar es Salaam

“A lot has been said about our brother and what led to his demise but we would like to receive an official statement from our government before we reach any conclusion,” Ms Kisale added while speaking to The Chanzo at Nemes family home in Mbezi kwa Msuguri, Dar es Salaam.

Efforts to get a comment from the government bore no fruit on Thursday after the Government Chief Spokesperson Gerson Msigwa said he was not familiar with the matter, promising, however, to follow it up.

Mr. Andrew Edward Mwandenuka Tarimo’s maternal uncle and Salome Kisale, Tarimo’s sister

But according to Tarimo’s maternal uncle Mr Andrew Edward Mwandenuka the family is receiving the necessary support from the government in its efforts to have the body of their loved one brought to Tanzania.

“As a family, we continue to stay in touch [with the government] to see when exactly will this happen. But [the government] is trying what it can,” Mr Mwandenuka said during an interview.

Mourners at Nemes Tarimo home

Life in Russia

After finishing college in 2016, Nemes, who studied at the College of Business Education he stayed at home for a while until he got sponsorship to study in Russia under an exchange program. He was enrolled at the MIREA — Russian Technological University.

His close friends also reported that apart from studying, Nemes was also was working part-time in the packaging industry in Russia to cushion himself against the high cost of living in the largest country in the world.

Nemes Tarimo in Russia as a student

He maintained contact with his family and close friends throughout his time in Russia. In 2020, Nemes returned to Tanzania this time around trying to fulfill one of his dreams, running for political office. “He had passion for political party activities,” one of his best friends explain.

By then Tanzania was preparing for its general election. Nemes participated in the party primaries for CHADEMA, the main opposition party in Tanzania. He contested to represent CHADEMA in the general election around his area Kibamba, however, he was not successful in the party primaries.

Nemes who is described by friends and neighbours as soft spoken and always friendly returned to Russia around the end of 2020. But after a short while, communication with Nemes became difficult, ‘he was not reachable’ explain one of his friends.

Nemes in Tanzania doing farm work

Arrested In Russia

According to our own research, based on the review of the documents from the District Court of Moscow, Tarimo was arrested around 18:40 on January 14, 2021, at Bekhtereva street in Moscow.[see downloaded court documents here and here]

It’s alleged that after a Police inspection he was found with 5.29 grams of a derivative of N-methylephedron in his jacket pocket, a form of drug which is also used in making cough and cold medicine.

Registered under Criminal Case No. 12101450081000009, Tarimo was taken to Nagatinskiy District Court of Moscow on January 16, 2021, where the court allowed for him to be put in detention for two months up to March 15, 2021, pending investigation.

Screenshot showing Nemes Tarimo Drug Case in the District Court of Moscow Website

He was taken again to court on March 10 by investigators asking for an extension of preventive detention, which was granted by the court to April 15 and later on was extended again to June 15, 2021, making him stay in detention without trial for five months.

On June 10, 2021, Tarimo was taken again to court before Judge Krutovskaya Larisa Adamovna where his detention was extended to July 15, 2021, with the judge citing his lack of permanent address and legal employment as the reason for continuing with detention pending investigation. The detention would subsequently be extended to September 15, 2021.

On October 14, 2021, Tarimo was brought again before Judge Shikareva S.A. who extended his detention to November 15, 2021, pending investigation, making him stay in remand prison for 10 months.

As per Russian law, 5.29 grams of derivative of N-methylephedron is counted as large quantity, which means if found guilty he would have served up to 13 years in prison. While The Chanzo cannot confirm if Tarimo was ever convicted or was still in detention, various reports shows that he was recruited by Wagner group while in prison.

According to a report by the BBC, the Wagner Group makes up about 10 per cent of Russia’s forces in Ukraine, thousands being raw recruits from Russian prisons. Prisoners are recruited with the promise of being pardoned after serving  Russia for six months in the war.

The last photo that Nemes posted on his Facebook account on January 8,2021, six days before his arrest

Conflicting Reports

In a new twist of events, a report released on January 18, 2023, by RIA Novosti News Agency, Russian government news agency ,claims that he was in prison for a murder charge which he pleaded not guilty.

The report also claims that Nemes was buried in early December 2022 at the Goryachiy Klyuch chapel, adding that his relatives had agreed that he should be rested in a country that he fought for.

The report also decorate him as a hero who was killed trying to save a wonded colleague amidst heavy shelling.

Second known African

Tarimo becomes the second known African person to die fighting for the Russians in their ongoing war with Ukraine.

In September 2022, reports emerged that a Zambian national, Lemekhani Nathan Nyirenda, 23, has died in Ukraine amidst fighting.

According to reports, Nyirenda was studying nuclear engineering at the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute.

He received a jail term in April 2020 of nine years and six months for a drug offence and had been serving his sentence in Moscow before being recruited by the Wagner Group with a promise of amnesty.

Thanks to efforts by Zambian authorities, the body of Nyirenda was brought to Zambia on December 12, 2022, where he was given the funeral he deserved by his family members.

For Nemes, his classmates, neighbours and friends believe its not possible for him to be involved in drag related offence, as its not his character.

Lukelo Francis is The Chanzo Journalist based in Dar es Salaam. He can be found at lukelo@thechanzo.com.

Lukelo Francis

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