'Shady Governor': How Pichuga's OCG dealt with competitors
The thief in law's impact in the region was so great that Komi establishment and law enforcement authorities preferred to be on good terms with him.
February 18, influential thief in law Yuri Pichugin (Pichuga) was detained in Moscow. Along with Pichuga, security forces also detained seven members of his crime group, whom they took in custody a day later; two members of the OCG were declared wanted.
According to investigation, in 1994 in Komi, Pichugin founded an OCG "united to jointly commit grave and especially grave crimes." The regional newspaper Tribuna explains what lies behind this wording.
The publication says that for nearly a quarter century, Yuri Pichugin was the leader of the Komi's criminal world not only "according to the investigation" – Pichuga was known to every living creature.
On his release in 1990 after serving another term as a thief in law, Pichugin quickly took down the republic's criminal milieu with the help of his strong leadership skills. He was called 'Shady Governor of Komi' in the turbulent 90s; his OCG controlled the entire criminal world of the region (except for Vorkuta, dominated by Ifa-Kozlov OCG), as well as underground economy. According to the newspaper, Pichugin used to regulate conflicts not only among criminals; he often acted as arbitrator in the local entrepreneurs' infighting.
After his detention in Moscow, Pichugin was convoyed to Syktyvkar
The thief in law's impact in the region was so great that Komi establishment and law enforcement authorities preferred to be on good terms with him. Especially since in the 90s, the theory of 'controlled crime' was popular among the law enforcement agencies of Komi republic (and not only them). Back then, the informal conversations among representatives of the Interior Ministry went like "Pichugin controls everything and judges justly. If we put him in jail, a war among crime groups will break out; it will be uncontrollable chaos and Makhnovism."
There were grounds for such attitude. In the 90s, there were several sport-oriented crime groups active in the capital of Komi, including Kononovtsy, Skifovtsy, Ayvengovtsy, and Loginovtsy, among whom were fighters, karatekas, sambo wrestlers, and iron pumpers.
They were engaged in racketeering and behaved quite arrogantly; in the thieves in law's opinion, their conduct was immoral; they did not submit to the authority and the codes of the underworld. Members of Pichuga's OCG, in turn, would teach them 'lessons'.
In 1997, Komi's absolute champion in bodybuilding Maksim Abubakarov (who used to be Pichuga's closest ally) killed a 'Skifovets' Nikolay Maslov with a blow of his fist during a fight in the Kirovsky park. A year later, members of Pichuga's OCG held another execution, cutting a year off to one of the athletes of Skif Sports Club; they totally destroyed the whole grouping a few days later.
Although, as the publication notes, law enforcement officers could not help noticing it and were forced to take action against the organized crime group of Pichugin, who first left the city, but was then arrested and transported to Syktyvkar after being put on the federal wanted list.
However, already in 1999, Pichuga was released on bail of 100 thousand rubles (1,727 dollars), and immediately disappeared. He was shortly found in Moscow and tried for Hooliganism. However, he was granted amnesty right away.
According to the publication, there are two time periods in Pichugin OCG's diverse criminal activities, namely the 90s and the 00s. In the first period, the OCG was engaged in the same tasks as many of their 'colleagues' across Russia, i.e. racketeering and protecting business. In the zero years, Pichugin and his allies tried to legalize their business in every possible way and invest the money from the 90's common fund in logging, catering, and recreation services, passenger and cargo transportation.
By the 00s, Tribuna says, Komi became too tight for Pichugin. 'Management' of the republic's criminal world was carried out by his appointees, and Pichuga himself settled down in Moscow and entered the criminal elite, becoming one of Ded Khasan’s confidants.
After the arrest of the 'Thief of thieves' Shakro Molodoy in summer 2016, the criminal world was to elect a new 'Crime Lord No. 1'. As previously reported by the CrimeRussia, Pichuga is currently one of the most important figures in the 'election campaign.' Yuri Pichugin is known as one of the closest adherents of the main contender for the 'Thieves' throne' on part of the so-called 'Slavic wing', that is, Vladimir Tyurin (Tyurik).
Relying on Pichuga's authority and his good terms with a number of crime lords, Tyurik could easily 'rise to the throne.' However, according to some sources, Pichuga's arrest can prevent him from doing it. In addition, according to a CrimeRussia's source, Tyurik has recently become a defendant in two criminal cases opened by St. Petersburg law enforcement agencies under ‘Murder', and may soon be under investigation himself.
According to Tribuna, it his 'competitors' who might be responsible for the arrest of Pichugin, who got away with so much for 20 years. And as we have previously reported, one of the crime lords Shurik Zakhar is against Tyurik's candidacy for Shakro Molodoy's position. While Oleg Shishkanov (Shishkan), who is currently wanted, has personal dislike of Pichuga. According to some sources, he himself does not mind to take the ‘Crime Lord No. 1’ throne.
The United States is considering two lawsuits against the "Russian mafia" at the same time; one is the criminal syndicate of the thief in law Razhden Shulaya and the other one is a Brighton Beach gang with an exaggerated name Vory v zakone ("Thieves in law"), although there are no actual thieves in law among the members. Reports from the court hearings tell us something about the relationship between the immigrant gangsters.