Case over gunning down transport riot police: Defense attorneys to take advantage of primary witness’s coma?
In early October, St. Petersburg City Court started examining a complicated criminal case pertaining to the gunning down of transport riot police operatives. The tragedy occurred in December 2015 and sparked a major public outrage. The people were demanding justice and quick capture of the perpetrators. Today, all the defendants are in the dock. But the situation with the recompense still remains very uncertain.
Three suspects are in the dock of St. Petersburg City Court: Arkady Nusimovich, Aleksei Gevorkyan, and karate trainer Gennady Levinsky. According to the investigation, on December 4, 2015, they have gunned down and burned a police UAZ vehicle driving along Murinskaya road. The assailants were looking for bags with ‘black cash’ belonging to CDS construction company and transported to pay salaries to its workers.
From the very beginning of the trial, it was obvious that the state prosecutor is going to request life imprisonment for all the three suspects. The defendants and their attorneys understand this and are determined to use every loophole to avoid the incarceration in ‘Black Dolphin Prison’ – the Penal Colony № 6 of the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia located in the Orenburg region. A fierce legal battle is forthcoming – especially taking that the defendants have chosen to be tried by a panel of jurors. Now the 12 people's judges have to deliver a verdict.
The police vehicle was attacked early in the morning at the intersection of Marshaka street and Murinskaya road. A Gazel minibus has suddenly blocked the way for the UAZ, then a car approached it, people in camouflage jumped out of the car and opened fire on the policemen. 44-year old police lieutenant colonel Anatoly Yablokov, Deputy Commander of the Special Police Force of the Administration for Transport for the North-Western Federal District of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation, was in the UAZ and received fatal injuries. The second policeman, 32-year old warrant officer Stanislav Barkanov, received several gunshot wounds. The assailants ran to the police car, dragged some bags with money from in and fled towards Vsevolozhsk. By that time, the car with riot police operatives was set ablaze. The criminals have set the UAZ on fire knowing that there were alive people inside it. Gravely wounded Yablokov was burned alive. Barkanov has been dragged out of the car by bystanders.
Only accountant Daria Shcherbakova managed to survive the assault unscathed. The attackers did not inflict any harm to her – just grabbed the bags with money. Currently Gennady Levinsky, Aleksei Gevorkyan, and Arkady Nusimovich are charged with banditry, robbery, murder and attempted murder, arms trafficking, illegal possession of a state registration sign of a vehicle, and destruction of the identification number of a vehicle.
Riot police UAZ vehicle
The investigation of this cruel crime has been assigned to the best operatives of the city. The St. Petersburg had never seen such an impudence – attacking police officers in broad daylight, killing, and burning them.
Shadow of Kumarin
Different experts had provided different versions of the crime. Analysts who used to work in war zones had unanimously stated that this was a work of professionals who dared to use Molotov cocktail and confront riot police officers. “It was a bloody hint for the police,” – newsmakers said. The attackers have shown a high class indeed. They were wearing camouflage and masks. The Hyundai Accent used for their escape was found burned. Later it became known that the assault had been planned for two years. The criminals were looking for a place and making arrangements to hide afterwards. The cars were purchased in advance – two years prior to the attack – via a series of intermediaries. Identification numbers have been removed from car parts using welding – the malefactors tried to conceal the information about their vehicles.
According to the investigation, Arkady Nusimovich was the mastermind behind this operation. He was aware how CDS construction company transports large amounts of cash. Greed and passion for dolce vita have pushed him to create a gang. The investigation believes that Nusimovich had expected fatalities, including victims among bystanders, from the very beginning – but this has not stopped him. Levinsky and Gevorkyan had also loved money and accepted the criminal plan. Nusimovich obtained Kalashnikov submachine guns, machine gun, and ammunition. A simple bundle of matches and sticking plaster was used as a ‘lighter’ (initially, a Molotov cocktail was mentioned, but forensic specialists did not find traces of combustible liquids). The bandits have seized 24 million rubles ($413.6 thousand) – although the media had initially provided a different amount – 40 million rubles ($689.3 thousand).
After the capture of the criminals following a Herculean operative work, the doubts have been dispelled: this was a work of professionals. It turned out that Arkady Nusimovich has an extensive criminal experience going back to the 1990s. Furthermore, he still follows the ‘code’ prevailing during the rule of ‘night governor’ Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin.
According to some information, Arkady Nusimovich was a member of the gang led by some ‘Stepanych’ – a legendary bandit who had dared to openly confront Kumarin in the early 1990s. His people have ‘presented’ 11 bullets to ‘Kum’, thus, nearly leaving ‘Tambovskie’ gang without the leader. In the following years, only a few members of the gang under the leadership of ‘Stepanych’ managed to survive. According to some sources, Nusimovich was arrested for forging documents and illegal storage of firearms, according to other sources – for illegal eavesdropping and possession of firearms. Nusimovich has a dual Russian–Israeli citizenship.
This case was a true challenge for the law enforcement authorities. Taking the elaborate plan of the criminals, the chance to capture them quickly was very low. Still, the forensic experts managed to identify some numbers on the burned car and even some genetic traces. This clue has led the investigators to the sellers of the foreign-made car and resulted in questionings and arrests. In total, six people have been detained in the framework of this case; it took the investigation team four months to capture all the suspects. The three defendants in the dock are the main perpetrators. State prosecutor Larisa Synkova has mentioned in her speech that the overconfidence, passion for dolce vita, and desire to throw away money have failed the criminals. The gangsters have spent the looted money on expensive cars – Audi Q7, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Toyota Land Cruiser – and luxury entertainment in most elite establishments of St. Petersburg.
The crime pattern had to be reconstructed bit by bit. 400 people have been questioned; records from 40 video cameras were seized.
Our of the three defendants, only karate trainer Gennady Levinsky had no criminal record. According to the media, it was a difficult task for the operatives to detain him. Well-trained athlete and master of sports of the USSR had reportedly actively resisted the arrest. The two others have surrendered without any issues. Aleksei Gevorkyan, the third assailant, has five previous convictions for robberies and thefts. Still, the investigation believes that the quiet and positive karate trainer has killed one riot police officer and wounded the other one. None of the defendants admit their guilt, except for Nusimovich who does not deny the storage of firearms.
Will of the supreme command
The prosecution has two key witnesses: CDS accountant Daria Shcherbakova and riot police officer Stanislav Barkanov who has miraculously survived. Best doctors of the Military Medical Academy had struggled for his life. But his testimonies are already becoming a battlefield for the prosecutor and defense attorneys.
The case file consists of 60 volumes; some 100 expert assessments have been performed; some 100 witnesses are to be summoned to the court.
The officer of the Special Police Force of the MIA Administration for Transport for the North-Western Federal District does not make a secret that such ‘cash transportation trips’ were not their private initiative – but the will of their command. As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, immediately after the tragedy, Vadim Kashirin, Head of the MIA Administration for Transport for the North-Western Federal District, has rushed to submit a resignation letter. It is not a secret that the resignation of Kashirin was directly linked with the shooting of his subordinates who had to deliver money to various construction sites to pay migrants’ salaries during working hours. After the incident, a commission of the MIA General Administration of Criminal Investigation and a flock of generals have arrived to St. Petersburg from Moscow. Obviously, the transportation of cash was illegal. But the fact that this was the will of the supreme command changes everything. Barkanov told the court that in total, 30 officers were providing cash delivery services to CDS construction company and risking their lives.
Survivor Stanislav Barkanov
The team consisting of the riot police officers and accountant had received the money not in the beginning of their trips but after arriving to a certain intersection where some young man Andrei was giving a bag with cash to the accountant. Such trips had been made every month. The migrants were receiving salaries, but how much was the fee paid by CDS company to the command of the MIA Administration for Transport for the North-Western Federal District?
Of course, this aspect won’t be discussed during the trial. In the very beginning of the hearings, presiding judge Vadim Shidlovsky has thwarted all the attempts of defense attorneys to turn the focus of the discussion to the illegal transportation of money – because the court is examining not the ‘black cash’ of the construction company but the armed assault, murder, and arson.
Still, both the judge and state prosecutor are currently facing another serious issue. The trial has just begun, but the problem is already evident. After being in a medically induced coma for two weeks, Stanislav Barkanov remembers very little. No one can say whether he is able to clearly recognize the defendants. Apparently, the defense attorneys have understood this problem as well and are about to take advantage of it. Time will show how the things unfold at the trial. Meanwhile, the judge has adjourned the hearings until October 16.
Video: A police vehicle gunned down and burned in St. Petersburg
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