Mafia boss Varchello: Ulyanovsk Police Department Chief launches alcohol business 

Mafia boss Varchello: Ulyanovsk Police Department Chief launches alcohol business
Yuri Varchenko, well known as Mafia boss Varchello Photo: The CrimeRussia

The Administration of the MIA of the Russian Federation in the region was caught running an illicit alcohol business; it produced and sold bootleg alcohol. The local residents complain about high crime rate and lots of teenage gangs. Public activists express their discontent with police by holding pickets in the Administrative Center. Moreover, a Ministry Committee has recently finished an investigation into activities of the local PD. It discovered numerous instances of misrepresentation of information and inclusion of false information into reports signed by the Chief.

27 years of ‘honorable’ service'    

The Major General’s official biography contains the following impudent bit: “…has served in the MIA with distinction for 27 years”. This claim seems bogus considering the sheer number of scandals surrounding the City PD. 

However, his career began far from the Volga region, in the Chukotka Autonomous District, where Mr Varchello started working as a regular officer of an independent security service. He worked his way up to the Head of the Directorate of the MIA in the region eventually. He served as such from 2008 to 2013. The Major General has been working in the Ulyanovsk region for the last 3.5 years.

Yuri Varchenko received a service incompetence note (a strong warning that even the most trivial mistake will lead to dismissal in the future, translator’s note) as the result of the inspection conducted on the order of the MIA Administration. This is pretty much a sign of his upcoming dismissal. The inspection was very unsatisfied with the Chief’s activities. 

Firstly, they discovered a large illicit alcohol business. Eduard Ovsyanin, the Deputy Head of the District Administration of Internal Affairs, was responsible for the production of bootleg alcohol. Is it even possible that his superior did not know about this established “shady” yet profitable business? The inspection had its doubts as well. It suspected he had his cut. 

Secondly, the City Police obviously does not cope with its responsibilities in the region under the present Chief. Gangs keep the population and business in fear as if it were 1990s all over again. Many local residents believe that the once calm region has now become crime ridden. 

Thirdly, teenage gangs rampage through the Ulyanovsk region. Local residents had to hold pickets due to bloody fights between such gangs. They addressed the Directorate of the MIA in the region, demanding it deals with the issues. 

Moreover, the inspection discovered a number of mismatches, absurdities, and blatant false claims in official reports signed by Yuri Varchenko. This means he tried to dress up the situation in the region by misinforming the federal agency administration.

Варченко и Колокольцев

Yuri Varchenko and Vladimir Kolokoltsev, the Minister of the Interior Affairs of the Russian Federation

The region residents claim that things were not like that under Anatoly Bakaev, the previous City Chief; streets were safe, no one burned cars at parking lots, killed entrepreneurs, and high-ranking police officials most certainly did not run illegal business.

Criminal Ulyanovsk

The Ulyanovsk Administration may fail to attract investments to the City due to skyrocketed crime rates. Large companies will not risk investing into major projects implemented in a region with such unfavorable crime statists.

Such long forgotten gangs as Potapovskie, Saplevskie, Filatovskie, Orlovslie, Kuzinskie, and Tsentr-Kamazovskie have come back there…while local PD does almost nothing to put an end to endless shoot-outs between gangs and attacks on entrepreneurs, as well as to stop gangs from oppressing the local population and criminals trying to establish their own 'shady' economy in the region. It prefers producing and selling bootleg alcohol instead. 

It is worth mentioning that Mr Varchenko ordered abolition of the Department for Combating the Major Criminal Communities of the Directorate. It seems that the Major General is not interested in combating crime in his area of responsibility. The region was seized by gangs as the result; criminals are more than happy with how things are. 

Truckers, who have to drive to the Region vigorously, tell stories of how they were forced to pay local criminals for ‘protection’. Gangs members severely beat drivers if they try asking police for help; the same happens if they refuse to pay. But it does not stop there: gambling is flourishing there; drug dealers do not have anything to fear; cars are set on fire almost daily. Everyone knows it is gangs ‘protecting’ parking lots that are behind the arsons. Not a single criminal case was launched, however. 

In the meantime, there are still plenty of shoot-outs, racketing, and attacks on entrepreneurs, politicians, locals, and visitors. The region is often on the criminal news; journalists tell stories of police torturing, brutality, beating, and murdering. However, the Chief and his subordinates are not concerned about this criminal nightmare, apparently.

Chukchi cases

Yuri Varchenko got interested in illicit alcohol trade as far back as when in Chukotka, as it turned out. Large batches of alcohol would be frequently confiscated in the district, according to various media outlets. Employees of the FSB Directorate in the Chukotka Autonomous District participated in special operations against bootleg alcohol producers. The same happened in Ulyanovsk this fall; security services raided bootleg alcohol production facilities, while employees of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation launched an investigation against its producers. 

It is not hard to launch bootleg alcohol production in the distant “land of bears”. Especially since alcohol-containing products are illicitly sent to Chukotka via both hoppers barges and planes; it is even often disguised as humanitarian aid. It is easy to sell it, too. However, the more the criminal business grew the more rumors of Yuri Varchenko being the one running it spread across the district. Chukotka residents curse the Chief nicknamed Mafia boss Varchello on the Interned even to this day. 

The man found a way to launch illicit alcohol business in Ulyanovsk, too, after being transferred there. There was a reason to assume he successfully settled down in the Volga region, found henchmen, including Eduard Ovsyanin, his assistant, and slipped back to his old ways. 

Yuri Varchenko is a crony of Roman Abramovich, the former Chukotka Governor, according to media outlets. The Chief pledged allegiance to Mr Abramovich on multiple occasions in the broad daylight, some claim. He provided private security for the former Governor’s house, hunting area, and natural reserves fields that were of interest to the oligarch’s team.

Hundreds of thousands of bottles of bootleg alcohol

The Directorate of the Committee in the region has published the following news on its website recently: Eduard Ovsyanin, the former Deputy Chief of the PD for Enforcement of Public Order in the region, was put under home arrest. He is accused of breaking the Article 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Bribe-Taking Committed by a Public Individual on an Especially Large Scale). 

The accused took numerous bribes in exchange for not opening cases against offenders selling bootleg alcohol in the City in 2015-2016, according to investigators. The police officer took his last bribe of 1.2 million rubles on September 24, 2016. He was stopped from committing further crimes thanks to a joint operation of the Committee and FSB Directorate in the region.


Eduard Ovsyanin, the former Deputy Chief

An investigation is underway. It aims to discover all the circumstances of the crime, as well as other crimes committed by Mr Ovsyanin. 

The FSB found 150 empty bottles, dozens of rolls of excise labels, cardboard boxes, corks, labels with logos of famous alcohol brands, and 100 liters of alcohol at 2 bootleg alcohol producing facilities. Police seized more than 81 000 bottles of bootleg alcohol ready for transportation and sale. 

Mr Ovsyanin should have received the 1.2 million ruble bribe for not raiding the bootleg alcohol warehouses, according to a suspect interrogation report by the FSB. 

Of course, such a large-scale production is impossible to establish in an administrative center without ‘protection’. Reportedly, the ‘shady’ business owners got about 40 million rubles in revenue per month. It is worth mentioning that there were dozens bootleg alcohol producing facilities in the region. 

For example, a big bootleg alcohol warehouse near the Veshkaymskaya Seed Breeding Station should have been closed as far back as last year. Bootleg tequila, vodka, and whiskey were confiscated there…yet it still operates, according to This means the local bootleg alcohol mafia continues operating. 

Meanwhile, Mr Ovsyanin and his accessories may be responsible for dozens of deaths. One has to look no further than at the reports by media outlets on mass poisoning with bootleg alcohol in Ural and Kuban. It might very well be the Ulyanovsk illicit products that caused the poisoning; they could be delivered there from the City. The victims got poisoned with bootleg Jack Daniel’s. Bootleg whiskey labeled as Jack Daniel’s was also found in the Ulyanovsk facilities among other drinks. 

In the meantime, the very fact the region PD ‘protected’ a bootleg alcohol business may be enough to strip it of the remaining dignity, crippling the City’s overall appeal to business partners and investors at the same time.

Teenage gangs

Ulyanovsk activists held several pickets in December 2016. They protested against teenage gangs rampaging through the City and police led by Yuri Varchenko doing nothing about it. Parents of children, who fell victims to criminal disorders, participated in the pickets. 

The activists say they are going to gather at least 100 000 signatures in support of an appeal of Konstantin Dolinin, the Roditelskoe Sobranie Non-Profit Organization Head, to Vladimir Kolokoltsev, the Minister of Interior Affairs of the Russian Federation, Anna Kuznetsova, the Children's Rights Commissioner for the President of the Russian Federation, and other federal civil servants. The appeal addresses the issue of the City’s hardships resulting from teenage gangs rampaging through the City, flourishing of criminal activities, and inability to protect hundreds of thousands underage citizens. 


A picket against juvenile delinquency flourishing through the acquiescence of the Ulyanovsk police

“The City is in a deadlock; local residents are in constant fear for their children’s health and lives but are not able to get any help from police. This makes us ask you for help, for you are the only person left who could affect the situation we ended up in and pass the word to the MIA Administration and our country’s establishment,” the appeal reads. 

Residents of Ulyanovsk and other cities and towns of the region are afraid to leave their houses after dark; the region is run by criminals – both adults and teenagers - from dusk till dawn. Local members of parliament and activists are raising alarm yet another time, reporting police negligence and reluctance to combat crime, minors being forced into gangs, and blackmailing of law abiding citizens. 

The MIA and regional Administration are not happy at all with the situation in Ulyanovsk, obviously. The sheer scale of social issues connected to sharp rise in crime and local police incompetence is as tangible as to cause drastic decline in trust to all the 3 branches of power. 

The main negative impact from the Chief’s activities is sharp rise in crime in the region; him ‘protecting’ a bootleg alcohol business damaged citizens’ trust in police.



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