“Bullet in the head” waited for him. All versions of the murder of Badri Shengelia
Businessman Badri Shengelia – a ‘professional witness’ and notorious figure of criminal St. Petersburg – won’t help the law enforcement authorities anymore in their struggle against corruption, banditry, and internal intrigues. The professional ‘work’ of the killers has drawn a line under his controversial life and left plenty of questions to the investigators – because persons interested in this murder can be found literally everywhere, including their own agency.
Greetings from the 1990s
The murder of such a prominent figure as Badri Shengelia became a milestone event for St. Petersburg. It was not just an assassination a la ‘the turbulent 1990s’ – but a clear and meaningful signal for everybody: traditions of the 1990s are coming back.
Users of online forums dedicated to the criminal underworld of St. Petersburg write that Badri’s fate was predetermined years ago, that he had no chance to die of old age and “a bullet in the head” had waited for him. The people are astonished not by the very fact of his assassination – but with killers’ skills. Shooting a maneuvering target from a car moving at a speed of 200 km per hour is a top-notch mastery. The opinion of the investigators remains unknown yet. It is known though that a criminal case was instituted in record-breaking time – two hours after the murder.
Of course, the assassination of a ‘stellar’ raider of St. Petersburg caused a huge stir – both in the business community and semi-criminal circles. After all, his biography provided the basis for a famous book about bandits and TV series of the same name. The law enforcement authorities believe that his people were behind the most efficient raiding takeover schemes. In that period, many rightful owners of deluxe restaurants, factories, plants, and stores were replaced by henchmen of Badri. The businessman had no friends in St. Petersburg – only victims robbed, defrauded, or framed-up by him and law enforcement operatives using him to get compromising materials against certain persons.
The murder of Badri Shengelia caused a huge stir
Badri Shengelia was gunned down on a highway on September 17, 2018 in the Vsevolozhsky district of the Leningrad region. The incident occurred at 13:30 on the 21st kilometer of Novopriozerskoe highway. The killers in a white Mercedes GL overtook a Mercedes S500 belonging to Shengelia and gunned it down with a Kalashnikov submachine gun targeting the driver’s seat.
Everything happened in a matter of seconds in front of numerous witnesses. Novopriozerskoe highway is a pretty busy road. Many cottagers use it – Priozersk is one of the favorite holiday destinations of St. Petersburg residents. But the majority of them haven’t understood anything. Still, the killers knew their ‘business’ well.
At some point, Badri Shengelia was nicknamed ‘talking head of the Investigative Committee'. According to the media, dozens of bullets have smashed half of his head – and now the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) has to identify the masterminds and perpetrators of this crime. It is a difficult task because too many people were eager to eliminate notorious Badri Shengelia.
Mistake number five
Immediately after the tragic death of the businessman, former ‘night governor’ of St. Petersburg Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin and former high-ranked ICR officer Mikhail Maksimenko have been designated the primary suspects. Both of them were criminally prosecuted in the past on the basis of testimonies provided by Badri Shengelia.
Despite his reputation in the criminal circles, Badri Shengelia had only a few criminal records. In the late 1990s, several criminal cases were instituted against him for raidership – but the businessman managed to avoid imprisonment. In 2001, he was convicted for several real estate frauds – but evaded a penal colony for health reasons. In 2006, the businessman was prosecuted for swindling – but the fortune smiled upon him again: a year after the conviction Badri Shengelia has been released on parole.
In 2007, Shengelia has testified against Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin; this made it possible to prove his complicity in the attempted assassination of Sergei Vasiliev, owner of Petersburg Oil Terminal. The businessman had also intended to testify at the current trial.
Vladimir Barsukov (Kumarin)
In 2016, Mikhail Maksimenko, Head of the Main Directorate for Interdepartmental Liaison and Internal Security of the ICR, has been arrested based on testimonies provided by Shengelia. In the past, Maksimenko used to ‘patronize’ the businessman. This hasn’t prevented Badri from telling the operatives about a bribe given to Maksimenko for removal of Aleksander Klaus from the office of the Head of the Main Investigations Directorate in St. Petersburg of the ICR. Some people claim though that there was no bribe. Maksimenko reportedly was actively rooting against Klaus to appoint his old friend Ekaterina Gilina at his post. Turning in his patrons and defrauding friends and acquaintances were characteristic features of Badri Shengelia.
In other words, the both suspects had strong grounds for revenge. ‘Night governor’ has even issued an official press statement to prevent any possible allegations from the investigation that definitely won’t miss such an excellent opportunity to lay new charges against him. Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin has stated inter alia that the court should take a critical look at speculations about his involvement in recent events and that there “were and still are plenty of ‘talking heads’ in criminal cases against him aside from Shengelia”. In the meantime, fans of Kumarin post the following messages on forums: “It was obvious back in 2007 that he is a dead man” and “a rat's death for a rat!”
On the other hand, Shengelia claimed that Kumarin had spread rumors that Badri was the main raider of St. Petersburg to take suspicion off himself. “He has declared a manhunt for me,” – he told journalists and insisted that all the searches performed in the recent years were inspired by Tambovskie gang. The investigation is currently examining the version involving the former ICR officer; according to the official statement, the operatives are going to “verify the links between the murder of the businessman and his involvement in the trial of Mikhail Maksimenko, a former high-ranked officer of the ICR”.
The sources believe that, in any event, law enforcement structures have a hand in this story. Throughout recent years, Badri had traveled accompanied by two state protection vehicles, including a minibus with troopers of Grad (Hail) Special Forces Unit of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation. Being a witness in high-profile criminal cases, the businessman was under state protection. The murder was committed a week after the removal of the state protection.
The investigation still thinks that the assassination is linked with testimonies provided by Shengelia in some high-profile cases. The operatives have to review the case files. A request for cases currently under investigation has already been submitted to Moscow.
Badri Shengelia with wife Lyudmila
Interesting items were found in the course of the search in Badri’s apartment. The operational investigative group discovered there plenty of spying equipment and several data storage devices. According to the operatives, they have found compromising materials against current business partners of the slain entrepreneur. The volume of the materials was so large that several vehicles were required to take those away. The experts now have to spend months examining the seized data and find out who was the main partner of Badri Shengelia at the time of his death.
According to the source, this is the key question. Taking that Badri had continued his collaboration with law enforcement structures, the seized evidence may provide materials for new high-profile exposures. The media wrote that the businessman was about to bribe a high-ranked functionary of Russian Railways in the near future. Based on our information, this person was Oleg Belozerov, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Executive Board of Russian Railways.
Our sources believe that the computers seized by the investigation are true ‘Pandora boxes’. What information is contained there? It can’t be ruled out that a large portion of Shengelia’s materials will never be disclosed to the public.
P.S. On August 19, 2018, it became known that the law enforcement authorities had planned to prosecute Shengelia in the framework of a case pertaining to the contract killing of former tax officer Vyacheslav Orlov – allegedly involved in many raidership schemes – committed in 2006. According to the sources, Shengelia had tried to shift the blame to Barsukov-Kumarin – but this version was disproved, and the evidence implicated the late businessman. Reportedly, he had to be arrested in a few weeks.