“King not needed.” Is Guli already king? 

“King not needed.” Is Guli already king?
Russia, Ukraine, Europe – what’s next? Photo: The CrimeRussia

Thief-in-law Nadir Salifov (Guli) is quickly boosting his authority. In less than a year since his release, he managed to gain support of Azerbaijani businessmen and influential members of the criminal world. His name is mentioned from the Urals to Odessa, while the ranks of his supporters are steadily growing.

In late August, it became known that crowned thieves have held a congregation in Moscow and elected Oleg Shishkanov (Shishkan) the new thief № 1 in Russia. He will also be responsible for maintenance of the thieves’ pooled cash fund

His candidacy was supported by such prominent criminals as Mikhail Voevodin (Misha Luzhnetsky) (the congregation was held in his restaurant), Vasily Khristoforov (Vasya Voskres (Vasya Resurrected)), Dmitry Chanturia (Miron), Aleksei Petrov (Petrik), Sergei Aksenov (Aksen), Badri Koguashvili (Badri Kutaissky), Kakhaber Parpalia (Kakha), Elgudzha Turkadze (Gudzha Kutaissky), and Merab Gogia (Melia). Eduard Asatryan (Edik Osetrina (Edik the Sturgeon Meat)) has granted his consent to this in absentia. The clan led by Lasha Shushanashvili (Lasha Rustavsky) has also supported Shishkan. Furthermore, his candidacy hasn’t raised any issues with an old foe of all followers of Ded Khasan – Merab Dzhangveladze (Merab Sukhumsky). Zakhary Kalashov (Shakro Molodoy), whose post Shishkan has taken (either temporarily or permanently), hadn’t objected as well.

Олег Шишканов (Шишкан)

Oleg Shishkanov (Shishkan)

The only person, who has refused to participate in the voting, was Nadir Salifov (Guli) claiming that he "does not need a king".

Would this cause a war? No, unlikely. Shishkan has been elected as a compromise figure acceptable for everyone. Guli will be allowed to take what is rightfully his – vegetable markets and other spheres in Russia involving the numerous Azerbaijani diaspora. Based on his actions, Guli does not provoke conflicts himself – but knows very well where his interests lie.

After the release, the thief-in-law has initially relocated to Turkey and then to the United Arab Emirates. Recently Guli appeared in Montenegro where he is building his clan.

By now, he has retained such crowned thieves as Rashad Ismailov, Aleksander Kushnerov (Kushner), Merab Pipia, Merabi Mzarelua (Duyake), Roland Grechkori (Roland Shlyapa (Roland the Hat)), etc. 

In early 2018, representatives of the Kutaisi clan – Gaioz Zviadadze (Giya Kutaissky) and Zaala Makharoblidze (Glekhovich) – had visited him in Turkey. Their visit implies that Lasha Shushanashvili, who has settled in Greece, recognizes the power of Guli as well.

Гули в кругу близких

Guli and his associates

Guli does not try to join any group but stands neuter and clearly defines his sphere of interests. This is why, other thieves-in-law accept that Guli does not recognize any power above him. Concurrently, Salifov demonstrates his strength by steadily expanding the area under his control. 

Members of the Azerbaijani diaspora started seeking en masse his ‘patronage’ after the murder of the main rival of Guli – Rovshan Dzhaniev (Rovshan Lenkoransky). The second ‘wave of affiliation’ occurred after the release of Guli in October 2017. Now it is obvious that vendors operating at Russian vegetable markets have sworn their allegiance to him. 

For instance, Sverdlovsk crowned thief Agayar Agaev (Sedoi (Greyhair)), earlier considered a henchman of Dzhaniev, had initially tried to rule the region by his own – but ultimately bowed to Guli and brought a number of other prominent Azerbaijani businessmen of Yekaterinburg under his control. 

Агаяр Агаев (Седой)

Agayar Agaev (Sedoi (Greyhair))

Of course, not everything goes smooth. For instance, in late 2017, his representatives in Moscow had a needless conflict with a gang led by Chechen thief-in-law Aziz Batukaev attempting to usurp Dorogomilovsky, Danilovsky, and Butovsky markets controlled by Guli

According to some information, Guli has mobilized up to seven hundred fighters to protect his interests. The Chechen gangsters offered to meet in a smaller company. As a result, the meeting held on December 30 was busted by the law enforcement authorities. 

Later it became known that Ali Geidarov (Albert Ryzhy (Albert the Red)), stripped of his thievish status by Guli, had instigated Batukaev to such an inconsiderate act. However, the Chechen thief-in-law has quickly understood the situation, backed off, and the conflict was quickly hushed-up.

Азиз Батукаев (слева)

Aziz Batukaev (on the left)

Then it became known that Guli continues expanding his power in Moscow. In early spring 2018, a major stronghold of Rovshan’s clan – Food City wholesale market on Kaluzhskoe highway – has fallen. The positions of Zaur Akhmedov, a relative of the slain crowned thief, who used to control that market have significantly weakened recently – he started moved between the office and home only accompanied by bodyguards and expected an assassination attempt to be committed against him any time. The situation spiraled out of control – and Guli’s troops started ‘explaining’ Azerbaijani natives operating at the market that, from now on, they have to pay ‘levies’ only to Salifov.

Фуд Сити

Food City

In April 2018, it became known that an active member of the gang led by Dzhaniev and its staff killer – thief-in-law Khadzhibaba Talybkhanly (Khadzhi Beilagansky) – has arrived to Moscow to assist Akhmedov. He was among the people detained in November 2017 by the Turkish law enforcement structures on suspicion of an assassination attempt against Guli. To refresh background: at least ten persons under the leadership of Namik Dzhaniev, brother of slain Rovshan Dzhaniev, had arrived to Istanbul to attack the home of Guli who was considered responsible for the death of Rovshan Lenkoransky. Firearms and grenades, as well as a plan of Guli’s home, were seized from them. However, in mid-February, all of them have been released for lack of evidence. 

The arrival of Khadzhi Beilagansky to Moscow was the last attempt to resist the expansion of Guli – but it failed. In early June, Talybkhanly was arrested. The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) has charged him under part 3 of Article 30 and paragraph “a” of part 1 of Article 105 (attempted murder), part 1 of Article 105 (murder), and part 1 of Article 222 (illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation, or bearing of firearms) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The investigation believes that the crowned thief is the murderer of criminal ‘authority’ Ilgar Aliev (Danabash) – the secretary of Aslan Usoyan (Ded Khasan), ‘patriarch' of the Russian criminal world. In addition, according to some information, he might also be involved in a dozen other murders. In other words, Talybkhanly has dropped out of the struggle for the legacy of Rovshan Lenkoransky for a long time.


Khadzhi Beilagansky after the arrest

In the meantime, 43-year-old Azerbaijani native Nazim Nusratov is about to be tried in St. Petersburg soon. The investigation considers him an accomplice in the murder of Dzhabir Gasanov, an associate of Guli. On April 28, 2017, he was gunned down on Leninsky avenue of St. Petersburg. Dzhamal Gasanov, the direct perpetrator of the murder, has been put on the wanted list. 

Overall, the ‘resistance hotspots’ are continuously eliminated and the niche remaining vacant after the death of Rovshan Lenkoransky would likely fall under Guli’s control. It is just a matter of time – a person, who has spent over 20 years behind bars, has tons of patience. 

The remains of Rovshan’s clan are likely facing an unenviable fate. Not only has the gang has lost many people – but its economic base as well. Concurrently, Guli is going to continue the expansion of his sphere of influence to Ukraine, Baltic countries, and, possibly, Europe. 

In early 2018, members of the Azerbaijani diaspora in Ukraine have held a rally protesting against increasingly frequent crimes committed against Azerbaijani businessmen, including extortion and kidnapping. 

According to Vyacheslav Abros'kin, Deputy Head of the National Police of Ukraine, while being in detention, Guli had masterminded murders and participated in ‘squabbles’ in order to seize the Ukrainian greenery markets. 

Stanislav Rechinsky, former Press Secretary of the Security Service of Ukraine, believes that no one in the country can resist the expansion from abroad. One of the most influential thieves-in-law Sergei Lysenko (Lera Sumskoy) resides mostly in Moscow, while Andrei Nedzelsky (Nedelya (Week)) is abroad and does not intend to return due to his decrowning.

лера сумской.jpg

Sergei Lysenko (Lera Sumskoy)

Abros’kin considers Guli one of the cruelest criminals of the former Soviet Union and a major challenge for the country. Guli is the mastermind behind the increasingly frequent abductions of Azerbaijani, Armenian, and other vendors trading on vegetable markets. The gangsters demand huge ransoms for the release of hostages – $1 million and up. Abros’kin has noted that the atrocities of this crowned thief were discussed with other criminals – but no one dares to oppose him openly.

Rechinsky says that Salifov has powerful allies in Ukraine, including big businessman Vagif Aliev and former criminal authority Oleg Krapivin (Oleg Bakinsky) who may assist him in the criminal redistribution of the country. A native of the town of Shamaka in Azerbaijan, Krapivin is currently the Chairman of the Kiev Organization of the Azerbaijani in Ukraine. According to Rechinsky, he is a friend of Arsen Avakov, Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, – this ensures the loyalty of law enforcement structures to Guli.

Олег Крапивин (справа)

Oleg Krapivin (on the right)

The situation in Odessa is different. Status reports about skirmishes between Guli’s henchmen and representatives of local thieves-in-law Antimoz Kukhilava (Antic) and Mindia Goradze (Lavasogly Batumsky) come from there on a regular basis like from the battlefield.

A few months ago, an opponent of Odessa overseer Sadig Mirzoev (Sadik) appointed by Guli was killed in a shootout. Earlier Sadik and two his accomplices were arrested for battering several persons near a market with baseball bats. In May 2017, an assassination attempt against two Guli’s associates – Ilgam Gadzhiev and Oktai Arkhaly – was committed in Odessa.

Антимоз Кухилава (справа) с сыном

Antimoz Kukhilava (on the right) with son

It became known this spring that Guli started ‘exploring' Baltic states. Members of the local Azerbaijani diaspora complain of people acting on his behalf and offering them ‘patronage'. Otherwise, they threaten with problems no one – neither in the Baltic countries nor elsewhere in the world – would be able to solve. National secret services believe that this redistribution of the market would inevitably affect groups currently controlling it.    

Thief-in-law Zurab Shamugia (Ara Zugdidsky) is believed to be the main figure able to oppose Guli.

Shamugia wields certain powers in Latvia. After serving there two prison terms in the 2000s, the Georgian native decided to settle in this European country. His authority in the region has significantly increased after the murder of Nikolai Tarankov, leader of ‘Estonian mafia’ in 2016. Some people even consider him the thief № 1 in the Baltic states. Up until now, he has been successfully opposing foreign crowned thieves and criminal ‘authorities’ also willing to settle in the post-Soviet republic.

Зураб Шамугия (Аду Зугдидскии)

Zurab Shamugia (Ara Zugdidsky)

It is possible to assume therefore that Shamugia, jointly with the Chechen group, would be the main force resisting the Guli’s expansion. The local law enforcement structures are seriously concerned about this: if the thief-in-law has really made the Baltic region his next target, the local police forces are facing hard times.    

In addition to the control over local businessmen, the Baltic states may become an outpost for further expansion of Guli’s criminal empire and struggle against his rivals in Europe.

His primary targets would likely be the assets earlier belonging to Dzhaniev and currently administered by Khamzat Gastamirov (Sheikh Khamzat), the most loyal (according to his own words) follower of late Rovshan Lenkoransky

He opposes Guli on a regular basis, thus, asking for trouble. His henchmen in Russia record numerous videos with threats to Guli and praises to Gastamirov. But the problems approached him in a most unexpected way – not only Guli doesn’t consider him a heavyweight, but the Chechen thieves, whose ‘family member’ Sheikh Khamzat had considered himself, named him “an intriguer and showman”.

Хамзат Гастамиров (Шейх Хамзат)

Khamzat Gastamirov (Sheikh Khamzat)

Aziz Batukaev, Khussein Akhmadov (Khussein Slepoi (Khussein the Blind)), and Islam Edilgireev (Islam Bolshoi (Islam the Big)) had in May a congregation in Chechnya ‘remotely attended’ from a penal colony by Akhmed Dombaev (Akhmed Shalinsky) and unanimously ruled that Sheikh Khamzat “spreads dissention and discord; he is nobody, and his name in nothing”. To save innocent victims from any harm, an order was issued not to deal with him.

According to a member of the thieves’ world, this European businessman is a real nothing and nobody knew him as an ‘aspiring’ thief

After that, even loyal associates of Sheikh Khamzat started giving up on him, including Timur Diky (Tamaev) former criminal and participant of the Donbass war fighting for the Donetsk People’s Republic – he has named Gastamirov a “devil” and promised to arrange his “meeting with the Almighty God”.

Тимур Дикии (Тамаев)

Timur Diky (Tamaev)

In the meantime, the frenzied activity of Guli has attracted the attention of the Russian law enforcement authorities who decided to make sure that he does not appear in the county. In mid-December 2017, the Presnensky District Court of Moscow has arrested Salifov in absentia and put him on the wanted list. Guli has been charged under Article 126 (abduction) and Article 163 (extortion) of the Criminal Court of the Russian Federation. Maksud Gurbanov, a former henchman of Guli convicted for murder and direct perpetrator of the abduction of a Samara businessman, has testified against Salifov. Unofficially, Guli is accused of even more grievous crimes in Russia – allegedly committed as per his orders while he was serving the lengthy term in Azerbaijan. The Russian law enforcement authorities reportedly possess audio records of his conversations with victims where he openly intimidates them. Should Guli arrive to Russia, he would be immediately arrested. 

But the problem is that Salifov does not have to be in a certain place to continue the expansion of his influence. “Lotu Guli”, which means “Tough Guli” in Azerbaijani, has already become a brand working for Salifov whenever his emissaries pronounce his name. 

In May 2018, Turkey – where Guli had settled after his release in October 2017 – has declared him persona non grata, and he relocated to the United Arab Emirates. Being a dollar millionaire, Salifov can easily afford this. Concurrently, both these countries have declined extradition requests submitted by Russia. Even Montenegro, a candidate for the European Union strictly complying with its regulations, hasn’t extradited him. Guli arrived there in late August to celebrate his 46th birthday – but was arrested in the Podgorica Airport together with nephew Magomed Kurbanov. On the next day, the court has remanded Kurbanov in custody, while Guli was released. 

Надир Салифов (Гули) в Черногории

Guli in Montenegro

A representative of the Supreme Court of Montenegro informed The CrimeRussia that the case against Salifov is currently under consideration and promised to provide further details in the nearest future.

It is known however that Montenegro has recently become reluctant to extradite criminals to Russia. For instance, Telman Ismailov, former owner of Cherkizovsky Market charged in Russia with masterminding the murder of two businessmen in the Moscow region in May 2016 (paragraphs “a”, “g”, and “e” of part 2 of Article 105 and part 3 of Article 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), is hiding in this country. By the way, more charges have recently been laid against Ismailov in Russia, including the abduction of famous singer Avraam Russo. 

In late March 2014, Montenegro joined the sanctions against Russia. In 2016, it imposed additional sanctions against 149 Russian and Ukrainian citizens. 

The relations between the two countries have drastically soured after the arrest of 20 Serbian citizens on suspicion of plotting a coup in Montenegro in October 2016. In the framework of this case, Interpol has issued international warrants against three Serbs and two Russians – Eduard Shirokov and Vladimir Popov. According to the investigators, they are the organizers of the coup. At that time, Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, had accused the Montenegrin authorities of an anti-Russian information campaign. Russia refused to extradite the suspects to Montenegro.

Гули и Седат Пекер

Guli and Sedat Peker

This is how Guli has unintentionally joined the international politics. Earlier he had express willingness to confront Fethullah Gülen – the main foe of Turkish President Recep Erdoğan, thus, taking a certain stance in the national political system. First, Guli has expressed this way his gratitude to Turkey for its hospitality. Second, Salifov has likely assumed political ideas of his close circle – Sedat Peker, a prominent leader of ‘Turkish mafia’ and passionate supporter of Pan-Turkism and President Erdoğan’s agenda, was recently spotted in the company of Gili.

Overall, the struggle for vegetable markets seems to be nothing in comparison with shining perspectives currently opening for Nadir Salifov.



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