Victims of Red Swan. What unites deaths of thieves in law Vagon and Max Pioner in IK-11 

Victims of Red Swan. What unites deaths of thieves in law Vagon and Max Pioner in IK-11
The death of thief in law Vova Vagon left many questions without answers Photo: The CrimeRussia

On September 21, Vladimir Vagin, one of the most influential Slavic thieves in law, was discovered at the end of the rope in his cell IK-11 in the Perm Region. According to the preliminary conclusions of the investigation, the cause of his death was suicide, although the lawyers of the crime boss and a number of human rights activists do not believe this. Moreover, about 2 years ago thief in law Max Pioner died in the same colony under the same circumstances, while within its walls the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia (FSIN) tried to “break” the famous crime boss Badri Koguashvili. The CrimeRussia found out if there were not too many coincidences for the IK, which in the 1950s was conceived as a transfer for “breaking” the thieves in law before sending them to prisons.

September 27 in Nizhny Novgorod, more than two hundred relatives and friends waited a funeral of the thief in law Vladimir Vagin (Vagon), who a week before was found hanged in a solitary confinement cell at the IK-11 in the village Nyrob of the Perm region.


Dozens of a specific kind of guys in leather jackets came to the funeral of Vagin in the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin in the Nizhny Novgorod outskirts in Gnilitsy on Thursday. Among them, there was another well-known Nizhny Novgorod crime boss Viktor Zharinov named Caesar.

Caesar and Vagon in the United Arab Emirates

Parking at the temple and the surrounding area were closely crowded with SUVs and other elite foreign cars. In the cemetery near the wooden cross on the Vagon's grave there were loads of live flowers and wreaths with the inscriptions: "Eternal memory to Brother Vovka", "To thief Vova Vagon from the Solikamsk brotherhood", "From Sumbat" (thief in law Sumbat Abasov), "From Kamo Gorkovsky” (thief in law Kamo Safaryan).

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Journalists of the Nizhniy Novgorod channel Kstati (‘By the way’) tried to talk to the people who were following Vladimir Vagin to his grave, but they mostly kept silent, and those who spoke said they did not consider the death of a thief in law as suicide. The fact that the relatives of the Vagon did not believe in the voluntary departure of the Vagon to another world was also indicated by the order of the burial since the Orthodox do not read the burial service of suicides.

"And let the god figure out who killed him. A person who wants to live will never lay hands on himself," Vagon’s friends say. And this opinion is shared by many people but not in the Investigation Committee.

The Cherdyn Interdistrict Investigation Department of the ICR also officially conducts a pre-investigation check into the death of Vagin, which will result in a procedural decision. However, Irina Neznamova, the senior assistant to the head of the regional branch of the Investigative Committee of the ICR on media relations, already announced its preliminary results. According to her, the death of the Vagon was non-violent, since "no injuries of a criminal nature were found on the body."

For everyone else – relatives, lawyers and human rights activists – the death of Vladimir Vagin, who was one of the most influential Slavic crime bosses from the clan of Ded Hasan, left many questions.

According to those who spoke with him lately, Vagon did not have any apparent motive for suicide – he made plans for the future and took care of his health. He had 2 years and 10 months until the end of his term – less than a third of the 7.5 years that he received by sentence of the Nizhny Novgorod court for the attempt on the life of a law enforcement officer.


The 52-year-old native of the Kaliningrad region, Vladimir Viktorovich Vagin, known as Vagon and Vova Vagon, was "crowned" in 1995 in the Rostov region. Vagin was considered one of the most influential representatives of the "Slavic" wing of the thief clan of Ded Hassan. His "godchildren" are many famous crime bosses, including Vasily Khristoforov (Vasya Voskres), Sergey Asatryan (Osetrina Mladshy), Gia Akoev (Gia Sverdlovsky), Kamchybek Kolbaev (Kamchi), Andrey Tkachenko (Tkach Nyagansky) and others. In 2012, Vagon together with other well-known thieves in law came under the sanctions of the Ministry of Finance of the United States among the participants of the transnational criminal organization Brothers’ Circle. And in 2017 he was expelled by the American authorities from this list since after several years of search, he was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison in Russia. Having a background of 9 convictions, since 2016 the crime boss served his sentence in IK-35 in the village of Central Chusovsky district of the Perm Region, from where in February of this year he was transferred to the IK-10 village of Vsesyvtskaya in the same district, and later to the IK-11 in Nyrob.

“We visited Vladimir Vagin in November 2017 at the solitary confinement cell of Chusovskoy IK-35, where he was located before Cherdynskiy IK-10,” Georgy Sitnikov, chairman of the Public monitoring commission (PMC) for the Perm Region, told The CrimeRussia correspondent.

According to Sitnikov, human rights activists during the visit noted quite good conditions for the thief in law – the cell was better lit than others, it was warm.

"Vagin looked quite optimistic, read the books, he had no complaints about the conditions," the human rights activist said. The Nizhny Novgorod lawyer of the thief in law Andrey Guzev, who visited Vagon two weeks ago in correctional colony No. 10 in the village of Vsesvyatskaya, speaks about the same thing. On the day of the death of the crime boss, his Perm lawyer saw him in Nyrob and also did not see any prerequisites for suicide.

Attacked a wrong person

For many years, Vladimir Vagin through his representatives controlled a number of business objects in the Nizhny Novgorod region and generally lived well.


The last time he had serious problems with justice in 2009. The crime boss being pretty drunk rushed to Nizhny Novgorod café Soho on his Bentley to harness himself for his alpha dog Sergey Tishkov (Tishok), who did not get along with the company of the Caucasians.

Opponents have already managed to damage Tishkov’s face by the time of Vagin's arrival, so Vagon quickly became furious and dispersed the Caucasians, who recognized the thief in law, waving a small knife – according to some sources, a key fob. At the entrance to the cafe, he ran into a professional kickboxer from Izhevsk, Fyodor Luchinkin, whom the crime boss took for one of the attackers on Tishkov. A fight ensued – Luchinkin’s brother Alexander came to help him. Together they threw Vagon on the ground and neutralized him, but in the brawl, Vagon managed to inflict a knife wound to Fyodor Luchinkin, as a result of which, according to Luchinkin, he lost almost 1.5 liters of blood before reaching the hospital.

Fyodor Luchinkin

Later it turned out that the 24-year-old Luchinkin was a graduate of the Nizhny Novgorod Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, where he was retraining (later he worked as a detective of the Central Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and an operative authority of the Department K of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Udmurtia). According to data from open sources, currently, Fyodor Luchinkin has achieved considerable achievements in his sports career. Apart from the fact that he is a Master of Sports of International Class in kickboxing, a Candidate for the Master of Sports in boxing and a Master of Sports in hand-to-hand fighting, Fyodor repeatedly became the winner of the Cups of Russia, the world and European champion in kickboxing, and has a number of sports achievements in boxing.

Learning that his random opponent in a drunken brawl was a policeman, Vagon (or rather, people close to him), according to the Luchinkin brothers, made a couple of attempts "to reach a peaceful agreement with them." One day, a stranger came to offer peace "in order to avoid health problems" to Fyodor, directly to the hospital of the Nizhny Novgorod city police department, where he was after a wound in a fight. Since the hospital was departmental, Fyodor concluded that the parliamentarian is an MIA employee, as he would not have been allowed to enter the hospital without presenting a policeman identity. After this incident, Fyodor Luchinkin was taken under state protection.

His brother, the director of the Union of Martial Arts of Udmurtia Alexander Luchinkin once got a call from a member of the Federation Council asking for the same about the criminal prosecution of Vagon, wrote Nizhny Novgorod Kommersant, Alexander Luchinkin informed the deputy minister of the MIA of Udmurtia of the call, and he demanded of the senator not to interfere in the investigation.

After this, attempts to reach an agreement with the Luchinkin brothers stopped, but they started receiving pressure from the investigation of the MIA and the FSB. According to Fyodor Luchinkin, he was interrogated more than ten times, four of them were on the lie detector since they suspected that the policeman received a bribe from the crime boss for testifying in his favor. Alexander Luchinkin was also tested in this case, including the lawfulness of the ownership of his property.

Vagon and gangland entrepreneur Ruben Tatulyan (Robson) in Dubai

When events took such a turn, Vagon left Nizhny Novgorod, and then Russia. In April 2009, he was wanted by Interpol. For a long time, Vagon was in the United Arab Emirates in the company of another Nizhny Novgorod thief in law and a member of the Brothers’ Circle Vladislav Leontiev (Vadik Bely).

Thief in law Vadik Bely

Vagin was detained in February 2010 at the Dubai airport while trying to fly to Bangkok. The joint special operation to detain him was attended by officers from the Department K of the security system of the FSB and the Intelligence Department No. 2 of the MIA of Russia. On July 25, 2014, the thief in law was extradited to Russia and taken to Nizhny Novgorod, where the investigation against him was resumed.

The first sentence of the court in October 2015 was sensationally mild – Vagin received one year and nine months in a penal colony. During the trial, retraining of the actions of the accused took place – from Part 1 of Art. 105 to Part 1 of Art. 112 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (intentional infliction of injury to the health of average gravity). At the same time, the thief in law partially admitted his guilt about the fight with the stabbing, bluntly denying the attempted murder, and apologized to the victim.


Vladimir Vagin in court

However, in March 2016, the verdict was appealed by the prosecution, as a result of which the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Court slapped Vagon with 7,5 years of imprisonment with serving a sentence in a strict regime colony. After changing two such colonies, a few days before his death, Vagon found himself at his last destination — the Nyrob IK No. 11.


Penal colony No. 11 in the village of Nyrob, Cherdynsky District, together with IK-4 and Penal colony settlement (KP) 23, is part of the federal public institution OIK-11 of the special conditions of economic activity of GUFSIN of Russia in the Perm Region, known among the prisoners as the Red Swan for tight control over the “zone” from camp administration and prisoners under its control. According to the website of the Federal State-funded Institution, the Nyrobsky camp branch, which initiated the Nyrobsky Forest Correctional Institutions Department (symbol institution Sh-320) was established on March 1, 1938 and was part of the Usolsky correctional labor camp of the NKVD USSR.1 April 1945 the Nyrobsky labor camp of the NKVD of the USSR was organized. As of July of the same year, 13,414 prisoners of different nationalities were registered in Nyroblag (Nyrob camp). According to human rights activists, Nyrob Red Swan was originally conceived as a transit prison, where thieves in law were "broken" before being sent to prisons.

A few years ago, the Red Swan quite often appeared in the reports of human rights defenders as a prison where convicts were beaten, suicide attempts and concealment of cases of human rights violations were frequent. 

In particular, it is known that during PMC inspections of IK-4, prisoners were hidden for several days without light and food in basements so that they could not complain, and after receiving new convicts, 2-3 people were taken to the prison hospital every week with broken ribs and jaws, although no official complaints had been received.

In March 2014 more than ten prisoners of IK-11 opened their veins after searches and beatings by special forces of the FSIN, human rights activist Zara Murtazaliyeva wrote in her blog. According to one of the users of the forum about life in custody, convicts of the colony remember especially “kindly” the head of the colony Ivan Peshekhonov and the head of the security department of the OIK-11 and ex-operative of the Solikamsk camps Alexei Maltsev, who liked to boast about a souvenir in the form of the thief the law Vasya Brilliant’s legendary suitcase, with which he moved in into the White Swan in 1985 – another famous “torture camp” of the Perm region, which in the same year became his grave.

Thief in law Vasya Brilliant

However, in recent years the situation in both Swans has changed dramatically, the chairman of the regional PMC of the Perm Region, Georgy Sitnikov, told The CrimeRussia.

“The general condition of the Nyrob IK-11 is satisfactory, although there are many comments on the condition of the premises, the repair, the temperature in the cells, and the bathrooms. When we visited the colony the previous time on February 22, the institution was far from being in the best condition - there were many complaints of convicts about the maintenance - high humidity, cold, absence of a sink in one of the cells of the punitive confinement, we also had many comments about the TB department in the colony,” said human rights activist.

Two nooses

Nevertheless, in the colonies, where, according to the human rights activist, the conditions of detention are not the worst, for the second time in less than two years, a thief in law has committed suicide.

On February 10, 2016, the 36-year-old Penza thief in law, Maksim Novikov, better known as Max Pioner, was found hanged in the punitive confinement of the same IK No. 11. As in the case of the suicide of the Vagon, the Pioner did not leave any suicide note, and on the eve of his death he told his lawyer that he "would die a thief."


Penza-born Maksim Novikov was "crowned" by thieves in law Zabava, Blondin, Zhora Tashkent and Tsyrkach at a gathering in Turkey in September 2014. On February 20, 2015, the Pioner was detained by employees of the Organized Crime Unit of the Penza Ministry of Internal Affairs. During a personal search, two bags with a synthetic drug weighing 1.3 grams were found in the pocket of his jacket. Novikov did not admit his guilt, accusing police officers of planting drugs. Soon Novikov was sentenced to 3.5 years in a penal colony under Part 2 of Art. 228 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Illegal acquisition, storage, transportation, making or processing narcotics on a large scale without the purpose of selling).

Upon the death of the 36-year-old thief in law, a check was conducted, following which the prosecutor in charge of monitoring compliance with the laws in correctional institutions sent a presentation on the elimination of violations of the Federal Law “On institutions and bodies executing criminal punishment in the form of imprisonment” to interim head of Perm IK No. 11, after which the magistrate judge of the Cherdynsky judicial district fined a senior officer of the FSIN for 2,000 rubles ($30).

Max Pioner's tomb in Penza

Like Vagin, Novikov spent the last hours of his life under strict conditions – Vagon was kept in solitary confinement cell for several days, Pioner hanged himself in the punitive confinement - both measures are applied by FSIN officers to malicious violators of the regime. After the death of Max Pioner, his circle, like those close to Vagon, did not believe that he committed suicide voluntarily.

"They simply hang them."

One of the Russian human rights activists, noting that it is technically quite feasible to disguise the hanging under suicide, described briefly with these words what is happening to the thieves in law in the Nyrob IK to a correspondent of The CrimeRussia. Especially if one considers that no one will be seriously investigating the true causes of the death of a crime boss, who with his ideology alone challenges the state. The tradition of all-round bail is too strong among the Russian law enforcement agencies.

The author of the novels The Path of the Russian Gangster and The Confession of the Russian Gangster, conflictologist Mikhail Orsky also admits such an outcome. Orsky noted that shortly before the death of the "crowned" Max Pioner, "they demanded to renounce, but he did not have enough strength to endure, but enough pride." Several years ago, the staff of IK-11 tried to break down yet another influential thief in law Badri Koguashvili (Badri Kutaisi), but he managed to resist, after which he was staged for further "breaking" into an even more strict "covered" colony near Yeniseisk in Krasnoyarsk region.


Thief in law Badri Kutaissky

Meanwhile, law enforcement officers also seriously counted on Vagon’s possible renunciation of his thieve’ status.

The crime boss gave an occasion for such a comment to the head of the 6th Department for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for the Nizhny Novgorod Region, Yevgeny Voronin, in 2012. Being in Dubai, Vagon, addressed the chairman of the ICR, Vladimir Bastrykin, through Russian diplomats with a request “to influence his subordinates and take measures to restore his constitutional rights and legitimate interests. Vagon stated at the Russian consulate that "because of the unlawful actions against him by the investigation, he has not been able to return home for 3.5 years and participate in the upbringing of children who are dependent on his lawful wife."

“On one hand, this is nonsense, but on the other, it means that we are not working in vain, and if Vagin spoke about his constitutional rights, he might have taken the path of correction. I hope he will now renounce his status on some thieves' meeting,” the chief Nizhny Novgorod fighter with organized crime reacted to Vagon’s words in the commentary to Kommersant.

According to the founder of the social network, Vladimir Osechkin, the FSIN system “fosters “its own” thieves in law by destroying the independent ones.” The human rights activist cited the example of the former leader of the Far Eastern OCG Obshchak, Oleg Semakin, nicknamed Eva.


Oleg Semakin (Eva) 

According to Osechkin, Eva has been working with FSIN operatives since 2013. In particular, the human rights activist said, through Eva, the administration of the Mordovian camps blocks the holding of protests, which became more frequent in the Russian regions after the “torture scandal” in Yaroslavl region.

The document signed by Eva was made public in 2014

In the case of the deaths of Vagon and Max Pioner, another interlocutor of The CrimeRussia believes that confrontation with law enforcement officers, which is the basis of the criminal cases of both convicts, could play a role. And security forces are not used to forgive this.

Pioner accused the police of placing drugs, which could provoke the revenge of the siloviki, and Vagon went to his last term for attacking the policeman.

According to the lawyer of Vladimir Vagin, Andrey Guzev, shortly before his death, the crime boss told that the operatives threatened to move him to IK-11, where two years ago they found Max Pioner dead. 

However, according to rights defenders, after the large-scale checks of correctional facilities of the regional Federal Penitentiary Service Directorate on a wave of the scandal with beating and torturing of Evgeny Makarov by employees of the Yaroslavl IK-5, preventive discussions were held with FSIN operatives in a number of colonies throughout Russia. Their goal was to prevent complaints from the prisoners on the part of the detainees with motivation "it will get even worse." There is no information whether such a discussion was held with Vagon, but he was transferred to Nyrob shortly after receiving such threats.

To clarify all the circumstances of Vagin's death, lawyers who had previously insisted on forensic medical examination demanded the transfer of the verification materials on the fact of his death from the interdistrict investigative department of the ICR to the regional department of the Investigation Committee.

In addition, lawyers were alarmed by the fact that the district investigator refused to acquaint them with a video recording of the last minutes of life and movements of the prisoner, who was found hanged in the "dead" for video cameras zone. At the same time, despite the refusal to the lawyers to show the video from the corridor and the cell, the FSIN officers showed a record cut into fragments to some interested persons. And this, says Guzev, in itself, is already a reason for an official check.



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