Repressive machine can’t suppress Badri Kutaissky
The long-term confrontation between respected in the criminal world thief in law Badri Koguashvili (Badri Kutaissky) and the punitive system has recently resulted in another information leak. A video (in fact, just a slide show) has been uploaded on YouTube with a narrative implying that Koguashvili – posing as a thief-in-law of the old school – violates the thieves’ code himself.
Recently, the national enforcement structures have been implementing, via the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia, a package of measures to break thieves in law. Not all of them manage to withstand this. Some crowned thieves had renounced their titles for camera, while others preferred to commit suicide. However, Badri seems to be too tough for the penitentiary service. He wields a great influence in the criminal world and is considered a role model for all the thieves in law. After a series of unsuccessful attempts to suppress Koguashvili in the recent years, the authorities are now trying to discredit him.
Badri Koguashvili was born on March 22, 1964 in Kutaisi. Has been crowned in 1989 in Krasnodar by thieves Merab Maglaperidze (Merab), Robert Kalandadze (Robert), and Tariel Potskhveria (Kokono). He is believed to be one of the most authoritative and influential thieves in law keeping with the old thieves’ traditions.
To refresh background: Koguashvili was arrested in Glamur Khinkal’naya cafe located on Neglinnaya street in spring 2011 during a meeting with influential Slavic thief in law Aleksei Petrov/Suvorov (Petrik) and Gela Tsertsvadze, the closest associate of Tariel Oniani. Following the classic scenario, a dose of heroin (2.81 g) was found on Badri who had never been spotted using drugs in the past.
When the expert assessment has confirmed that Koguashvili is not a drug user, the original drug use charges have been reclassified to drug dealing and distribution.
In January 2012, Tverskoy District Court of Moscow has sentenced Koguashvili to nine years behind bars (later Moscow City Court reduced this term to seven years). In order to prevent unrest among the inmates, during most of the investigation, Badri was detained in a special ward of Matrosskaya Tishina (Seamen’s Silence) – a federal-level prison – and then was escorted to a colony in the Republic of Khakassia and later to the Penal Colony № 11, also known as Red Swan, located in Nyrob settlement of the Cherdynsky district of the Perm region. Not all criminal leaders were able to retain their status and even survive there. For instance, in 2016, thief in law Maksim Pioner (Pioneer) Novikov was found hanged in this colony.
The only Penza thief in law, 36-year-old Maksim Novikov, also known as Maks Pioner or just Pioner, was crowned in Turkey in 2014 and sentenced to 3.5 years in a maximum security penal colony in 2015 under part 2 of Article 228 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal acquisition, storage, transportation, making or processing of narcotic drugs without the purpose of selling on an especially large scale). Novikov has spent the last hours of his life in the punitive confinement and earlier told his lawyer that he “will die as a thief”.
However, the administration of this penitentiary institution failed to suppress Koguashvili, and it was decided to transfer him to another colony with even more strict regimen – so-called roofed colony located not far from Yeniseysk in the Krasnoyarsk krai.
During the transfer, the thief in law was continuously provoked. For instance, in the Pretrial Detention Facility of Krasnoyarsk, an inmate working for the prison administration has been put in the Badri’s cell. That convict had humiliated and insulted another cellmate without any cause – and Koguashvili had to defend him. The criminal has got a hit in the head with a mug – while the thief in law has got a new criminal case under Article 116 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (battery). It was obvious that Badri, who has served more than half of his 7-year term by that time, won’t be able to get out of jail even due to medical reasons.
The thief in law had understood very well the absurdity of the situation and impossibility to obtain justice and decided, in the absence of other ways, to address the media via his attorney. An audio record of his voice has later appeared on YouTube. Emphasizing that he is not a public person, Badri Kutaissky said that he has made this step in a hope to help other people and stop the lawlessness committed against them.
Video: Badri Koguashvili’s address to journalists
Soon, his case has been submitted to Zheleznodorozhny District Court of Krasnoyarsk that sentenced him only to a fine.
Finally, Badri has been delivered to the colony in Yeniseysk, and his torments continued. The administration put Koguashvili in a solitary-confinement cell and started imposing punishments on him – mostly, for poorly made up bed. The thief in law had initially launched a hunger strike and then refused to sleep on the bed, spending nights on a bench located near the table. But prison guards have sawn the bench in halves turning it into two small stools. On one of these halves, the criminal lord had been sleeping with his head on the table. For 1.5 year, this regimen had been alternated on a regular basis with placing in the punitive confinement. The personnel of the medical unit were more inventive in the breaking methods and used a psychological trick – they told Koguashvili that he has cancer and his days are numbered. Later it turned out that he had no cancer.
Ded Khasan (Aslan Usoyan)
Then Koguashvili has been transferred to the Penal Colony № 31 of Krasnoyarsk having no prison regimen. However, he was placed to united cell-like confinements that are, in fact, a prison, not penal colony. The Public Monitoring Commission had visited him this summer; according to it, despite the possibility to sleep on the bed, his cell was much worse in comparison with the one in Yeniseysk: it was wet, full of mould, while the plaster was falling off. The abuses of prison guards, as well as provocation attempts against the thief in law, continued at the new place as well, for instance, the legitimate parcels with food products and medicines sent to Badri are not delivered to him.
Initially, Badri was alone in the cell; then first-time convicts specially transferred from the penal colony to the united cell-like confinements have been placed to him. Since the first days, they were openly provoking the thief in law to use the physical force against them – this would inevitably result in a new prison term for him, while Koguashvili had to serve only one remaining year of his term at that time. The young men had behaved against the rules established in prison cells. According to Rosbalt, later they have told human rights activists that officers of the Federal Penitentiary Service had forced them to pick a fight with the thief in law.
The confrontation between Badri and the system is further complicated by the fact that he tries not to join any of the thieves’ clans – although many people consider him a member of Sukhumskie based on his origin. He attempts to solve any thieves’ issues fairly – as a result, the majority at congregations often do not share his position. Furthermore, he fiercely opposes the commercial conferral of the thief-in-law title to people not matching the traditional meaning of this title and not obeying the thieves’ code.
Tariel (Taro) Oniani
After the demonstration of this stance questioning the authority of commercial thieves – whose numbers are steadily growing – a war has been declared on Koguashvili. His rivals have contracted corrupt law enforcement officials – so-called oranges – to lock him up.
In addition, Ded Khasan, who had an open confrontation with Badri, had reportedly taken a hand in his last arrest.
Upon returning to Moscow in the late 2000s from the U.S. where he had lived for a while, Badri Kutaissky intended to unite together individual thieves from clan Kutaissky for the duration of the term served by Tariel Taro Oniani, the leader of that clan historically opposing Ded Khasan. The quick incarceration of Badri was also explained by rumors about his intention to convoke a general congregation avoided by Usoyan since the mid-1990s.
Shortly after his placement to Butyrskaya Prison, a circular letter has been issued by the crime bosses claiming without any grounds that Badri Kutaissky had been decrowned. The following thieves had signed this letter: Gela, Gizo, Shamil Smolyansky, Gia Galsky, Duyake, Roland Shlyapa (Roland the Hat), etc.
Concurrently, Shakro Molodoy – believed to be the successor to Ded Khasan – has named Badri Kutaissky his brother at a large congregation in Yerevan in 2015 and promised to hold the signers of that letter responsible for this. According to some information, Koguashvili has been recognized a family member at that time – i.e. reinstated in his thieves’ status.
Zachary Kalashov Shakro Molodoy
Another frame-up staged by the Federal Penitentiary Service has also failed: Shlyapa Mladshy (Hat Junior), son of one of the criminal generals who had signed the letter about the decrowning of Badri, has been placed to the Prison Hospital of Krasnoyarsk where Badri was admitted. Not only hasn’t the thief in law raised any claims against Shlyapa Mladshy, but instead defended him when the decrowning of Gegechkori was discussed. According to Badri, while in detention, thieves in law must struggle against the system. And Shlyapa, regardless of his other features, had done this. Therefore, his decrowning would be beneficial only to the system. All the issues with him had to be dealt with after his release.
Red circular letter
After all the above events, the only weapon against Badri remaining in the hands of his enemies was that cheap propaganda trick.
The video uploaded by user Nekras Ryzhiy refers to a real person – Vyacheslav Mayer, also known as Nekras Ryzhiy (Nekras the Red-Haired), a sociologist, dissident who had emigrated from the USSR, and author of materials about prison customs. This is the only video on his channel – a response to media publications (including The CrimeRussia materials) about the pressure put on Koguashvili.
In fact, any publicity is good in the existing situation – this is the only way to resist the system that apparently does not make difference who is right and who is wrong.
The video uploaded this summer is allegedly an appeal to the inmates – but it has obviously been produced by the opposite site. Being unable to frame-up a crime discrediting the thief in law, the law enforcement authorities decided to use a different approach and arranged such a leak. There is no doubt that the video has been created by the authorities (or with their consent) – who else could use records from video cameras installed in a penal colony and film on a hidden camera from the first-person perspective?
Ruslan Gegechkori (Shlyapa Mladshy)
So, what do we see? The authors have presented not a video, but a series of photos whose meaning is not clear. In any event, these photos can’t be interpreted in a way this so-called red circular letter insists on.
The narrative is a nonsense – it is unclear on whose behalf it is pronounced; it provides either voluminous reasoning or unsupported statements. The author, in fact, admits this himself – for instance, when he claims that Badri had a sexual relationship in Sochi with a minor girl – who “could not be found”.
The author asks how a Russian thief may decide anything from America and attempt to change something in Russia? But this is the reason why Badri has returned and serves time in prison for six years already – although he could still enjoy the Californian sun.
The author(s) are especially outraged by the fact that Badri tapes the video camera lens on a regular basis. The video is not consistent with the fictitious scenario – that would be completely unsubstantiated without pictures.
The text claiming that he is allegedly making up his bed – thus, obeying the regimen – is accompanied by a photo showing a thief leaning over a made up bed for unknown reasons. Is it his bed? We do not know when this photo was made – who else was in the cell with Badri, etc.?
The authors demonstrate a photo of Badri eating gruel and remember that he had declared a hunger strike – but again, we do not know whether the photo was taken before or after that.
Or, for example, a parcel is delivered to him. So what?
But in any event, the presented photos are helpful to some extent – the people can see the thief’s conditions of detention. It is a humble – for his title – cell with one table, two benches, bed, drawer, and electric kettle.
We would like to repeat: it is highly unlikely that his enemies from the criminal world could produce anything like this – especially now, when some of them are dead while others are waiting for decrowning themselves. Badri is struggling against the jail keepers who won’t leave him alone whenever he is. But as it can be seen, the confrontation has expanded beyond the prison walls and attempts to affect people having nothing to do with the penitentiary world. The question is: perhaps, the system is pressurizing Badri so hard because he – unlike many others – still refused to change his color and bow to it?
In the past, Article 228 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal acquisition, storage, transportation, making or processing of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances, or analogues thereof) was most commonly used for the communication between the law enforcement authorities and thieves (as if all of them are drug addicts) – but now a more suitable (although more hard-to-prove) Article 210 (creation of a criminal community (criminal organization) and participation therein) is increasingly often used against them. Back in 2010, Alexander Bastyrkin, Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, had complained that the investigators’ achievements in cases pertaining to organized criminal communities were poor because of “the high secretiveness of their bosses”. In other words, the operatives were aware of the thieves’ status of certain persons but couldn’t do anything because formally these people haven’t done anything illegal – it is well-known that crowned thieves often act by proxy.
But in the last several years, a true hunt has been launched against the thieves – Article 210 was very convenient for this, while prison terms stipulated in it – pretty large, thus, meaning less troubles with the criminal world for the law enforcement structures. Part 4 of Article 210 even stipulates life imprisonment. The first thief in law prosecuted under that Article of the Criminal Code was Mamuka Galsky. In June 2017, the native of Abkhazia indicted inter alia for extortion and murders has been sentenced by the Judicial Board of Court of the Altai Krai to 17 years in a maximum security penal colony.
Yuri Pichugin (Pichuga)
It is obvious, however, that such an innovation had been prepared for Shakro Molodoy – whose case just wasn’t transferred to the court in time. Thieves in law Yuri Pichuga (Little Bird) Pichugin and Viktor Vitya Pan Panyushin have also been charged under Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Charges under this Article are expected to be laid against Andrei Tkach Nyagan’sky Tkachenko as well.
Now it is possible to lock up a person for a large term from the very beginning – therefore, there is no need to add small terms to the inmate for minor offences anymore. The old concept of struggle against the organized crime is being replaced with the new one.
Video: Badri Kutaissky