War between thieves in law: Pushkin sends Albert Ryzhiy to jail 

War between thieves in law: Pushkin sends Albert Ryzhiy to jail
Ali Geidarov Photo: The CrimeRussia

The key testimony against thief in law Ali Geidarov has been provided by some Aleksander Sergeevich Pushkin. Due to obvious reasons, he was unable to attend the court hearing. The CrimeRussia was investigating what the secret witnesses told the investigators in the case against thief in law Albert Ryzhiy (Albert the Red) and why his defense attorney believes that the sentence is unjustified.

“Thief must be kept in jail.” This is commonplace truth, which no one would object. However, the thief must be kept in jail for proven crimes – not only because he is a thief in law. This is the fundamental principle of justice.

Lawyer Dmitry Popov, defense attorney for thief in law Ali Geidarov – also known as ‘Albert Ryzhiy’, ‘Albert Pitersky’, and ‘Albert Gyandzhinsky’ – sentenced to 7 years behind bars in 2016, sticks to this position.

Biographies of prominent thieves in law are often full of mysteries. There are no detailed Wikipedia articles dedicated to them – publicity is against the ‘rules’ of the high caste of the criminal world. But Ali Geidarov Museib ogly (the full name of ‘Albert Gyandzhinsky’) – is a truly outstanding figure in the Russian criminal society.

He was named a henchman of Ded Hasan – ‘Godfather of the Russian mafia’ – in the northwestern region; by the age of 36, he has become known as the leader of ‘Arkhangelskie’ gang – the main competitor of ‘Shamaninskie’ organized criminal group; he managed to quarrel with a number of influential ‘crowned thieves’ and survived three assassination attempts. He had regularly been displeasing not only law enforcement authorities, but also his ‘titular’ colleagues.

According to CrimeRussia sources, Geidarov was ‘crowned’ in 2012 by St. Petersburg ‘thieves-in-law’ upon a recommendation from Aslan Usoyan. Various sources state that the young and ambitious ‘thief’ has quickly ascended to leading positions in Arkhangelsk, where he had officially resided with his wife and three children, and then became an influential ‘criminal authority’ in St. Petersburg.


‘Albert Ryzhiy’ is a fan of expensive cars; he often exchanges vehicles in Gregory's Cars dealership

Main episodes of the criminal case against ‘Albert Ryzhiy’ – which has ultimately resulted in his sentencing to 7 years in a maximum security penal colony – had occurred in St. Petersburg.

Litigation routine

Operatives of the Taifun Special Task Force have arrested Geidarov on July 14, 2014 in the framework of a criminal case related to a robbery on an especially large scale. According to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Frunzensky District of St. Petersburg, ‘Albert Ryzhiy’ and his accomplices had found a potential victim by posting an ad on Avito web site offering for sale a Volkswagen Touareg SUV at a lucrative price and accepted a monetary advance through QIWI payment service.


Arrest of Ali Geidarov in St. Petersburg

When the ‘client’ arrived to the rendezvous point with a large amount of cash, the gangsters have attacked him and his friend, beaten, and seized the handbag with money. The investigation managed to identify the attackers: they were natives of Arkhangelsk Evgeny Krasnov and Roman Mamedov, born in 1985. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the law enforcement authorities have established that Ali Geidarov, who also used to live in Arkhangelsk for a long time, was the organizer of this crime.

The investigation had lasted for two years. Geidarov, Mamedov, and Krasnov have been charged under part 4 of Article 162 (Robbery) and part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Swindling on an especially large scale).

On December 26, 2016, the Frunzensky District Court of St. Petersburg has passed sentences upon the defendants. Geidarov has been sentenced to 7 years in a maximum security penal colony; Krasnov and Mamedov have got 6 and 7.5 years in a maximum security penal colony respectively. The court has also ruled to satisfy in full the civil lawsuit filed by the victim, A.V. Galkin, to compensate physical damages in the amount of 1,936,000 rubles and moral damages in the amount of 250 thousand rubles. The swindling charges laid earlier against the defendants have been dismissed, and they were sentenced only for the robbery.


Ali Geidarov was escorted from the courthouse through the back door. Three prison trucks had been sent in different directions from the courthouse to prevent any attempts to free or assassinate him.

The court has seized some assets of the convicts under the civil lawsuit, including the following possessions of ‎‘Albert Ryzhiy’: a golden Rolex watch estimated at 521989 rubles, Chevrolet Tahoe SUV, and a land lot with the area of 1200 square meters in the Leningrad region.

Everything seemed fair – “Thief must be kept in jail”. But Dmitry Popov, the defense attorney for ‘Albert Ryzhiy’, believes that the case against his client had been framed-up. The lawyer told the CrimeRussia that the criminal case had been examined in court with clear violations; therefore, the verdict can’t be considered legitimate and justified. In particular, the indictment against the ‘thief-in-law’ was based on testimonies provided by secret witnesses ‘Markov’, ‘Ivanov’, and ‘Mamedov’ and by police officers A.F. Popova, who used to handle this criminal case, and A.A. Arapov, who had provided operational support for the preliminary investigation.

The victims did not know Geidarov because he hadn’t participated in the robbery personally; suspects Krasnov and Mamedov had never mentioned his name.

Witness ‘Pushkin’, who had actively testified against Geidarov in the course of the investigation, was unable to attend the court hearings.

Kudos to Pushkin!

What did the witnesses say specifically in relation to ‎‘Albert Ryzhiy’? In fact, lots of interesting facts. For example, the witness nicknamed ‘Aleksander Sergeevich Pushkin’, who has introduced himself as a “member of an organized criminal group of the northwestern region, having a previous conviction, unemployed, whose primary source of income are illegal activities”, said that he had personally heard from ‎‘Albert Ryzhiy’ about an effective swinging financial scheme invented by him. The scheme included publications of ads offering expensive cars at low prices to attract potential buyers. The client ‘takes the bait’, then he is ‘hooked on’ by making an advance through an electronic payment service.

Witness ‘Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov’ has added that “after the robbery, a portion of the loot had been contributed to the thieves’ pooled cash fund on behalf of ‎‘Albert Ryzhiy’”.

According to another ‘Ivan Ivanovich’ and ‘Mamedov’ (the investigators haven’t shown much fantasy in the selection of nicknames), Geidarov had acted in the criminal scheme as a patron and protector against other criminal ‘authorities’ and thieves in law. ‘Pushkin’ states that ‎‘Albert Ryzhiy’ was the leader of ‘Arkhangelskie’ – the largest northwestern organized criminal group uniting over 100 members; he was responsible for the conspiracy of silence in the gang and general leadership.

According to the witnesses, ‎‘Albert Ryzhiy’ had promised gang members protection from law enforcement authorities and support in case of their imprisonment through his connections.

‎“‘Alik Ryzhiy’ makes all decisions at his sole discretion; his word is law; should anyone go against his words, he will die,” – the questioning record of ‘Aleksander Sergeevich Pushkin’ states.

‘Pushkin’ characterizes ‎‘Albert Ryzhiy’ as an autocratic and cruel criminal leader scourging those gang members who disobeyed him. He also mentions a “secret gang of killers” under command of ‎‘Albert Ryzhiy’; even people from his inner circle in Arkhangelskie organized criminal group did not know who they were.

Testimonies of the secret witnesses include numerous descriptions of ‘gatherings’, characteristics of Mamedov, and Krasnov, who were close associates of ‎‘Albert Ryzhiy’ and always accompanied their boss in an armored vehicle, and other details that have no direct relation to the criminal case and just generally describe criminal activities of ‘Arkhangelskie’ gang and its leader in the northern part of Russia. But not in St. Petersburg, where the robbery of Galkin and Sheshel, for which Geidarov and other gang members were sentenced, had been committed.


The institute of secret witnesses has been established in Russia on July 1, 2002, after the enactment of the new Criminal Procedural Code of the Russian Federation. According to part 3 of Article 11 of the Criminal-Procedural Code of the Russian Federation, if there is sufficient data, testifying to the fact that the victim, the witness or other participants in the criminal court proceedings, as well as their close relatives, relations or their near persons are threatened with murder, violence, destruction or damage of their property, or with other dangerous illegal acts, the court, the prosecutor, the investigator, the body of inquiry and the inquirer shall take within the scope of their competence with respect to the said persons measures of security, including classifying. The witness protection program had been used in Russia for the first time during the investigation of a case against Kazan-based Khadi Taktash organized criminal group. The secret witnesses played an important role in the investigation of many high-profile criminal cases, including the murders of Andrei Kozlov, First Deputy Chairman of the Central Bank, and lawyer Stanislav Markelov.

Was there Pushkin at all?

According to the law, the reason for classifying a witness is an application from him/her confirming the reality of threats from persons interested in the outcome of the criminal case, suspects, or their representatives. The application must be hand-written and stored in a sealed envelope under conditions preventing access of defendant’s representatives or lawyers to it.

Many lawyers believe, however, that this increasingly popular practice is hiding plenty of sunken rocks. Legal experts and human right advocates state that it allows corrupt officers of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR), Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), or Prosecutor’s Office to falsify evidence against the defendant if the defendant or his/her accomplices are interested in this. The accomplices, in turn, can provide strong incentives for a governmental official whose powers allow him/her to affect the investigation. The recent experience shows that even high-ranked enforcement officers are susceptible to large amounts of money, take for example the high-profile case involving superior functionaries of the ICR Nikandrov, Maksimenko, and Lamonov, who had received a bribe from ‘thief-in-law’ ‘Shakro Molodoy’.

Normally, ‘secret witnesses’ provide testimonies in the course of investigation and later in court. There are two common tactics used by anonymous witnesses: they ether confirm everything said during the preliminary investigation, or refuse to answer the questions from the judge, state prosecution, and defense – and the prosecutor requests to read the earlier testimonies of the witness. The court accepts this evidence and delivers on its basis a verdict, including lengthy prison terms. This situation was so typical, that in 2012, famous lawyer Genrikh Padva had called for serious modernization of the institute of anonymous witnesses to avoid abuses committed by investigators, using as an example false testimonies forged by Kurgan criminal investigation officers on behalf of secret witnesses in a case related to a murder of a local resident in 2004.

A CrimeRussia source in the justice system believes that similar symptoms can be observed in relation to the conviction of Geidarov. He even supposes that the secret witnesses (the very existence of one of them – ‘A.S. Pushkin’ – could not be verified because he did not attend the court) mentioned in the case file as criminals from Arkhangelsk could be members of ‘Shamaninskie’ gang busted by the MIA in 2014. This gang had been competing with ‘Arkhangelskie’ for criminal domination in the region for a long time. There could be several persons or criminal groups interested in the imprisonment of Geidarov – ‎‘Albert Ryzhiy’ always had lots of enemies.

“Run Albert, run!”

It is a well-known fact that various clans of ‘crowned thieves’ are waging a war against each other within the criminal elite. Temporary alliances are created to unite scarce clans against a powerful enemy and then fall apart due to conflicts between their leaders. ‘Thieves-in-law’ are being ‘crowned’ and ‘decrowned’; they attain special powers and lose those. Assassinations occur on a regular basis; some ‘authorities’ (Ded Hasan, Rovshan Lenkoransky, Astik Sukhumsky, etc.) die, while others inherit ‘orphaned’ spheres of influence in shady and legal businesses and climb to higher positions in the thieves’ hierarchy.

The criminal society has a controversial attitude towards Ali Geidarov with his four criminal convictions.


‘Albert Ryzhiy’ reports

Media had published facts discrediting Geidarov from the ‘thieves’ ideology’ point of view several times – apparently, following purposively arranged ‘information leaks’. Take, for example the well-known glaringly fake photoshopped image “Albert Ryzhiy reports”, or a video from the Turkish city of Edirne showing a man running away along the street – who, according to the authors, is ‘Albert Ryzhiy’. Many authoritative criminals do not accept the publicity of Geidarov, which contradicts the customs of the ‘thieves’ caste’ – he has unwillingly became famous after an assassination attempt against him thwarted by St. Petersburg operatives.

It is necessary to note that although the police officers had saved him from the assassins, ‘Albert Ryzhiy’, in full accordance, with the thieves’ rules, flatly refused to recognize himself a victim and testify.

According to CrimeRussia sources in the criminal world, a large group of ‘authorities’ respect Geidarov, whose ‘thievish status’ is currently ‘under conflict’. There were rumors that ‘Shakro Molodoy’, ‘thief №1’, had suspended his ‘thievish status’ on a congregation in Erevan, together with a number of other young ‘thieves-in-law’ ‘crowned’ by ‘Ded Khasan’.

The list of enemies of ‘Albert Ryzhiy’ includes ‘Lotu Guli’, Aleksey Gudyna (‘Lekha Irkutsky’), and Besik Kvinikhidze (‘Beso Rustavsky’). According to sources close to the criminal structures, ‘Albert Ryzhiy’ had an armed conflict with Gudyna and Kvinikhidze in Edirne, during which a bodyguard of Geidarov – who turned out to be an operative of the Turkish police – was shoot dead. Of course, Geidarov denies his participation in any shootings in Turkey and insists that he is an ordinary businessman specializing in sales of used cars. A source close to Geidarov has confirmed to the CrimeRussia the shooting in Edirne, but disproved the popular version that the killed policeman was a bodyguard of Geidarov

Video: Street camera recorded ‘Albert Ryzhiy’ running away from people shooting at him

Influential thief in law Nadir ‘Lotu Guli’ Salifov is traditionally believed to be the main enemy of Ali Geidarov. Salifov is the leader of the Azerbaijani criminal conglomerate, which also includes Vagif Suleimanov (‘Vagif Bakinsky’) and Rashad Ismailov (‘Rashad Gyandzhinsky’).

In December 2016, Rashad Ismailov has claimed responsibility for the high-profile murder of thief in law Rovshan Dzhaniev (Rovshan Lenkoransky) in Turkey. Dzhaniev was the main enemy of Ded Hasan whose death has considerably changed the spheres of influence of individual thieves in law in Russia. Sources stated that Azerbaijani thieves in law had temporarily united against the clan of ‘Rovshan Lenkoransky’ to achieve two goals: seize the green herbs market in the Moscow region and avenge the murder of authoritative businessman Dzhambulat Shamil-ogly in spring 2016. It is impossible to predict how long this alliance would exist, but according to the source, there are no long-term unions in the thieves’ world. The source believes that in this particular case, the future split would be caused by ‘Lotu Guli’ who is very foresightful while pursuing his personal goals, but stops at nothing upon their accomplishment.


According to sources in thieves’ circles, in March 2014 ‘Lotu Guli’ had attempted to assassinate ‘Albert Ryzhiy’. He had hired two killers from Tatarstan via intermediary Ilgam Gadzhiev; they were supposed to murder Geidarov, but have been arrested by operatives of the MIA General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region – this is how ‘Albert Ryzhiy’ has suddenly become known to the public. He declined the status of victim, and the criminal case against his would-be-killers later collapsed in court. However, this was not the last attempt to neutralize Geidarov, one of the most ambitious young ‘thieves-in-law’ with a great potential, the CrimeRussia source believes. The ‘weird’ court verdict could be a step taken by enemies of Geidarov in order to considerably restrict his activities.

An appeal to the sentence passed upon Ali Geidarov has been filed with the St. Petersburg City Court on January 9, 2017, his lawyer Dmitry Popov says. In the appeal, the defense attorney notes a number of violations committed, in his opinion, in the course of the investigation of the criminal case against ‘Albert Ryzhiy’ and during his sentencing. He claims that the circumstances determined by the court are not supported by the collected evidence. In 2013–2014, covert activities had been performed against Geidarov, including wiretapping of his telephone conversations. However, neither did the audio records include any discussions related to the planning or commission of crimes, nor references to criminal schemes – which were unanimously mentioned by secret witnesses. Popov provides some other arguments in support of the innocence of his client in this particular criminal case. It is unknown yet when the appeal is to be examined.

Video: Main Investigations Directorate - During the arrest of ‘Albert Ryzhiy’, his accomplice attempted to shoot at the police officer




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