Law enforcement services waited over 20 years for legalization of Pichuga’s gang 

Law enforcement services waited over 20 years for legalization of Pichuga’s gang
Arrest was a shock for Pichuga Photo: The CrimeRussia

The law enforcement authorities have ‘spotted’ something suspicious in operations of Yuri Pichugin and his gang only in anticipation of the ‘supreme thief’ election in Russia.

High-profile arrests continue rumbling the criminal world. The investigation of the criminal case against ‘boss of all bosses’ Zakhary Kalashov (Shakro Molodoy) arrested in June 2016 is actively progressing. Initially he was charged with extortion, but later another criminal case has been initiated against him under part 4 of Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (creation of a criminal community (criminal organization) and participation therein by the person holding the supreme position in a criminal hierarchy).

Not long ago, another prominent member of the criminal world – thief in law Yuri Pichugin, also known as Pichuga (Little Bird) – was arrested as well. Unlike Shakro Molodoy, Pichuga was detained not for a recent crime, but for past deeds.

Video: Thief in law Pichuga arrested in Moscow 

A criminal case has been initiated against gang leader Yuri Pichugin and mobsmen Oktai Efendiev, Sergei Vanuito, Akhmed Isaev, Aleksey Rokhlin, Sergei Soldatov, Khadis Azizov, and Maksim Abubakarov under Article 210 (creation of a criminal community (criminal organization) and participation therein) and Article 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal acquisition, transfer, sale, storage, transportation, or bearing of firearms, its basic parts, ammunition, explosives, and explosive devices).

Another suspect in this criminal case – Aleksander Egorov – has been caught shortly after the arrest of Pichugin. Two remaining gang members – Makhach Azizov and Viktor Karpov – have been put on the federal wanted list.

During the searches performed with operational support of the regional administrations of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation and Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation, several arms caches have been found and seized. The operatives have searched residences of Pichugin and other active gang members in Moscow, Pyatigorsk, and Syktyvkar.

According to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR), back in 1994, Pichugin had created in the Komi Republic a criminal group consisting of former athletes, enforcement officers, and veterans of special forces to commit grievous and extremely grievous crimes for the purposes of financial and other material gain.

It was a classic gang of racketeers providing ‘protection’ to local businessmen. In the end of the 1990s, Pichugin has introduced universal standards of conduct for all mobsmen, a system of sanctions for violations of those, and security rules. Since that time, the organized criminal group has acquired a hierarchical structure, sustainability, conspiracy, and defense system against law enforcement authorities, which allowed it to expand its operations.

Гия Кварацхелия, Рамаз Дзнеладзе (Рамаз Кутаисский), Юрий Пичугин (Пичуга), Тамаз Пипия (Тамаз Сухумский)

Giya Kvaratskhelia, Ramaz Dzneladze (Ramaz Kutaissky), Yuri Pichugin (Pichuga), and Tamaz Pipiya (Tamaz Sukhumsky)

In the 2000s, similarly with many other organized criminal groups, the gang started legalizing its criminal gains. To ‘launder’ the money, Pichugin and his team were making investments into various commercial activities – from public catering, entertainment, and consumer services to transportation and timber harvesting.

Leaders of organized criminal groups operating in the 1990s had quite different fates: some of them are dead, some serve prison terms, some managed to wait out the difficult times abroad, while some have allegedly withdrawn from the criminal ‘business’ and now pose as ‘authoritative’ entrepreneurs. Pichuga was ‘crowned’ in 1992; he created a gang and maintained a ‘pooled cash fund’ replenishing it with ‘proceeds’ from robberies, armed assaults, larcenies of oil products, telephone scam, and real estate fraud.

It took, however, more than 20 years for the law enforcement authorities to finally smell a rat. After the sudden arrest of the thief in law, sources in the criminal world have unanimously stated that the high chances of Pichuga to replace incarcerated Shakro Molodoy were the main reason behind his imprisonment.

Yuri Pichugin was born in 1965 in the Sverdlovsk region, has plenty of criminal convictions, was ‘crowned’ in 1992 – Petso, Edik Kutaissky, Emil Khobsky, and Taro had attended the ceremony, and became the ‘enforcer’ in the Komi Republic. He was a member of the inner circle of Ded Khasan and maintained relations with many powerful thieves in law, including Ukrainian ones (he was even arrested on a thieves’ congregation in Ukraine in 2012 during the selection of a new ‘enforcer’ for Kiev).

It is necessary to note that he was not the sole contender for the vacant throne of the ‘supreme thief’ of the country, and according to CrimeRussia sources, the next candidate for arrest might be another thief in law Vladimir Tyurin (Tyurik). The law enforcement authorities of St. Petersburg have initiated two criminal cases against him. Unlike the majority of criminal cases instituted against ‘crowned thieves’ and usually related to illegal acquisition and storage of narcotic drugs, Tyurik is facing prosecution for two murders committed in St. Petersburg.

Владимир Тюрин (Тюрик)

Vladimir Tyurin (Tyurik)

Taking that in January the law enforcement structures have busted in Moscow a congregation of ‘authoritative thieves in law’ involving Pichuga, Vasily Khristoforov (Vasya Voskres), Paat Tvalchrelidze (Paat Malenky (Paat the Small), Georgy Diakvnishvili (Giya Dlinny (Giya the Long)), etc., who had gathered in Batoni restaurant to discuss a candidacy for the new boss, this sequence of events does not seem an accidental coincidence.

Apparently, the enforcement structures are purposively preventing the ‘thieves’ world’ from choosing a new ‘kingpin’ – the CrimeRussia source confirmed this and advised that commanders of enforcement agencies have received an unofficial directive: the ‘supreme thief’ must not be elected before the Presidential elections in 2018. Secret services mostly oppose the so-called ‘Slavic arm’ of the criminal world. In 2015, Oleg Shishkanov (Shishkan Ramensky), an influential ‘thief-in-law’, had to go on the run due to charges laid against him – Shishkanov was accused of complicity to the disappearance of Tatiana Sidorova, a Deputy of the Ramenskoe Legislative Assembly, and her family.

Another potential contender to the vacant throne is Gela Kardava (Gela) deported from Russia in 2013. According to the verdict of the Cheremushkinsky District Court of Moscow, his return to the country is not possible until the end of 2018. However, our source states that Gela somehow backdoors his way into Russia from time to time. This is not really surprising – in February 2017, this thief in law was arrested in Kiev with fake Ukrainian passport in the name of Oleg Romanovich Golomba, a native of Simferopol.  

Гела Кардава (Гела)

Gela Kardava (Gela)

It is also necessary to note thief in law Konstantin Borisov (Kostyl) who is currently serving a prison term for storage of narcotic drugs. He was arrested in May 2015 in the course of a theatrical special operation. Operatives of the Russian MIA General Administration for the Moscow Region and troops of a special task force, disguised as officers of the State Road Traffic Safety Inspectorate, have pulled over a Toyota Land Cruiser 200 with Kostyl and his associates. Borisov understood that he has been tricked and blocked the doors of the SUV. SWAT officers started crushing the car windows with sledgehammers. Upon getting Kostyl out, they pinned him down and searched. According to defense attorney Ivan Mironov, at that moment, the police have planted a parcel with drugs on his client and seized a golden watch worth €30 thousand, ring with a diamond, and 150 thousand rubles. In summer 2015, Borisov was sentenced to 3.5 years in a penal colony. Taking the time spent by him in the pretrial detention facility, Kostyl should be released in the end of 2018.

Константина Борисова (Костыль)

Konstantin Borisov (Kostyl)

As of right now, only one prominent Slavic thief in law – Vasya Voskres – remains on the lose, and apparently, there are no immediate threats to his freedom yet. Still, the trend of the law enforcement services to suppress this ‘arm’ of the criminal world can be clearly observed – and new arrests are quite possible in the near future. 

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