‘Kings of racket’ from Sofiiskaya vegetable warehouse to be tried in court
For 7 years, the gang of Novruz Mamedov was terrorizing all vendors of Sofiiskaya vegetable warehouse in St. Petersburg. Because of their criminal operations, the municipal authorities started considering this profitable facility a disgrace for the city. The ‘service record’ of the gang includes robberies, beatings, extortion, and kidnapping. Recently this multivolume criminal case has been submitted to the St. Petersburg City Court.
In fact, the story of this gang is much more eventful than it might seem at the first glance. It includes everything: pursuits, threats, attempts to bribe victims, inaction of the local police, atmosphere of fear, and arrest of gangsters’ lawyers. The Main Investigations Directorate in St. Petersburg of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) has charged Novruz Mamedov, Elvin Akhmedov, Israil Ibadullaev, Mubariz Mamedov, Eldar Gasymov, Sadig Kerimov, and Ragim Mirzoev – depending on the role of each defendant – under items (a and b), part 3 of Article 163 (Extortion committed by an organized group for the purpose of obtaining property on an especially large scale), items (a and b), part 4 of Article 162 (Robbery committed by an organized group in an especially large scale), item (a), part 3 of Article 126 (Abduction committed by an organized group), and item (a), part 3 of Article 111 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Intentional Infliction of a Grave Injury committed by an organized group).
Racket a la Shishtap
This story has begun in a distant Azerbaijani village of Shishtap. All the defendants – as well as many commercial tenants of Sofiiskaya vegetable warehouse – are natives of this small settlement. No one had ever counted migrants working at the warehouse. They arrive and leave freely. No one – including the police – can say how many of them were killed in quiet local squabbles because nobody complains there on racket and beating.
Racket is a normal everyday practice on Sofiiskaya warehouse. Novruz and Mubariz Mamedov, ‘bold guys from Shishtap’, have created a gang there and imposed levies on their fellow villagers. Some money from the criminal pooled cashed fund were used to bribe the police – therefore, operatives of the Frunzensky District Department of Internal Affairs arriving to police calls from the warehouse had never investigated incidents happening there. Criminal skirmishes occurred there every day, while the racket of vendors has become a smoothly running business.
The suspects have been charged with 8 episodes of extremely grievous crimes. These offences have been committed in the period since August 2003 and until June 2012; the total damages sustained by the victims are some 7 million rubles.
Today the investigation has sufficient evidence to state that the gang has committed numerous crimes, including creation of a criminal group for robberies, abductions, and intentional infliction of grave injuries. According to the official press release, “the gang had specialized in profit-motivated crimes”.
Bribery, seizure, and retreat
It was not an easy task to capture the members of the ethnic criminal group and lay charges against them because their victims had never filed criminal complaints. By the time of arrest, Novruz Mamedov has become a ‘hardened criminal’ and acquired a café – Stary Gorod (Old City) – where he was meeting with ‘suppliants’ and settled issues.
Novruz Mamedov during the arrest
This ‘little criminal kingdom’ could prosper forever – but in 2015, one of the victims has addressed the law enforcement authorities. This unlucky trader owed 2 million rubles to his partner – which is nothing in comparison with the scope of operations on Sofiiskaya vegetable warehouse with its illegal cash turnover of hundreds of millions. But the hotheaded partner was not willing to wait and addressed the brothers Mamedov. Two strong men have immediately captured the debtor, seized all his belongings (cash, bank cards, and valuables), transported him to the Kirovsky district of the Leningrad region, and started extorting money – 3 million rubles already – from his relatives. Brother of the victim managed to negotiate a ‘payment plan’ with the abductors – but he had a misfortune to displease them somehow, and had also been ‘put on the clock’, while his BMW car was seized.
This was the last crime committed by the gang of the brothers Magomedov. Arrests started immediately, but the investigation has encountered an obstacle: the detained suspects had denied any guilt, while the Shishtap racketeers remaining on the loose had been pressurizing the victims and threatening their families. Ultimately, two victims have literally fled Russia. Later they have sent official statements (notarized by the same notary public) that they had calumniated the brothers Magomedov. The criminals also managed to bribe the two remaining victims with 3.5 million rubles.
The investigation of this criminal case had lasted for almost 2 years. The case file includes 29 volumes. More than 50 people have been questioned in the framework of this case; some 10 various expert assessments performed.
Two attorneys for the gang of the brothers Magomedov – Egor Gavrilenko and Oleg Karelov – are currently being tried in court. To change a testimony of one of the victims, they have drafted a text, which he had to learn by heart and tell during the questioning. But the victim addressed the investigator, and the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation has joined the investigation. The operatives have provided the victim with equipment and instructions. His meeting with lawyer Egor Gavrilenko has been held in the office of Oleg Karelov. The FSB officers have recorded the scene where Gavrilenko is convincing the victim to take the money and learn the text. Then the lawyer gave the victim an advance of 2 million rubles – later it was used as evidence. During the questioning by FSB operatives, Egor Gavrilenko has admitted that it was Oleg Karelov who had asked him to bribe the witness. The subsequent searches performed in the lawyer’s office and seized documents and other evidence have confirmed this.
Video: Sofiiskaya vegetable warehouse. Video by the Main Investigations Directorate of the ICR
The brothers Mamedov vs. Sayad Aliev
Another remarkable episode in the story of the gang led by the brothers Mamedov is a high-profile scandal that included searches and media articles against Sayad Aliev, Head of the Regional Enterprise of Water Supply and Waste Water Treatment and Deputy of the Regional Legislative Assembly. The CrimeRussia wrote earlier that the high-ranked official was suspected of creation of an ethnic criminal community on Sofiiskaya vegetable warehouse. Among his compatriots, Aliev has a reputation of an underground moneyman and person able to “settle issues” and make arrangements with law enforcement authorities. Of course, Novruz Mamedov – even with all his boldness – could not have such connections and powers; the scope of his criminal operations was much smaller.
In summer 2016, the ICR and SWAT operatives have arrived to the office and residence of Deputy Sayad Aliev. The reason for their visit was an episode dated 2012, when café Stary Gorod had suddenly changed its owner. It was a shady story involving abduction of a person by unknown malefactors and his consequent release for 1 million rubles. In 2015, Novruz Mamedov, Elvin Akhmedov, and Israil Ibadullaev had been charged with this crime. There were several other suspects in the criminal case; one of those claimed to be Sayad Aliev – a prominent figure in the Azerbaijani diaspora. However, today the law enforcement authorities do not link the name of Deputy Sayad Aliev with the gang of the brothers Mamedov. According to the media, the Deputy calls these allegations “intrigues of his foes”.
The story of the gang is not over yet. Taking the number of its members, amount of criminal episodes, and severity of the offences, the trial is expected to be lengthy and full of surprises, nasty tricks, and artistic performances.
The city police detained two officers of the Russian FSB and the deputy chief of the Internal Affairs Directorate for the North-East Administrative District Department of the Interior Ministry of Russia for Moscow, who are suspected of bribe-taking.