Peculiarities of national recreation: overseer, FSB general, and businessman
In late May, a private Sud-Aviation Gazelle helicopter has crash-landed in the Khabarovsk krai. As a result, a 72-year-old man died from heart seizure. Another passenger has got a spinal fracture, while the third one – the pilot – came out of the accident with only a minor brain concussion. Later it became known that the deceased person was an FSB colonel general, the one with spinal fracture – a former overseer of the Khabarovsk krai, while a prominent Khabarovsk businessman had piloted the helicopter. The CrimeRussia obtained some exclusive information about this strange company.
To earth from the clouds
Overnight into May 21, 2018, a private Gazelle 342 helicopter has crash-landed in the Tuguro-Chumikansky district, Khabarovsk krai, near the confluence of the Shekli and Uda Rivers (600 km from Khabarovsk). After the landing, the helicopter burst into flames (or was set ablaze). The pilot and two passengers managed to get out of the aircraft by themselves and went to a hunting lodge located 1 km from the crash site. On the way, one of them, a 72-year-old man, had a heart seizure and died.
According to the official version of the accident, “On May 21, at 01:20, the Khabarovsk Center for Crisis Management of EMERCOM was notified of a crash. At 05:10, a private Mi-2 helicopter has departed from Chumikan township to the victims; it has delivered the body and survivors to Ekimchan where medical assistance was provided to them”.
It is known that, contrary to the regulations, the helicopter had neither registered its flight nor requested the route. Because the aircraft was not registered, the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) has declined to investigate the accident as not falling within its competence. The Federal Air Transport Agency of the Russian Federation (Rosaviatsiya) is currently investigating the helicopter crash in the Khabarovsk krai jointly with the law enforcement authorities.
The investigators are examining three main versions of the incident: weather conditions, technical malfunction, or piloting error. The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) has instituted a criminal case under part 2 of Article 263 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (violation of the rules for traffic safety and operation of the air transportation systems that has involved by negligence the death of a person).
State security general, criminal ‘authority’, and businessman
47-year-old businessman Sergei Melnichenko, the aircraft owner, had piloted the helicopter that night. He came out of the accident with only a minor brain concussion and scratches.
Businessman Sergei Melnichenko
Melnichenko is a co-owner of Seryshevsky Meat Plant. Seryshevsky Production Complex consists of the following enterprises: MiS Agro Agricultural Enterprise in Polyana township, Seryshevsky Butter and Cheese Factory in Seryshevo township, sausage making factory in Belogorsk and Blagoveshensk towns, semi-finished products plant in Seryshevo township, and bread and confectionery plant in Belogorsk.
The company's interests are not limited to sausages and loaves – it also includes its own construction company, security company, and delivery service.
Another passenger of the crashed helicopter was 39-year-old Yuri Maslennikov. Local media outlets humbly call him “an entrepreneur”. Maslennikov suffered a severe spinal injury in the catastrophe.
Yuri Maslennikov (Krab)
In certain circles, Yuri Maslennikov is known as Krab (Crab). In the 1990s, he was the overseer of the Khabarovsk krai and member of Obshchak (Thieves’ Pooled Cash Fund) organized criminal group – the largest in the Russian history. Thief-in-law Evgeny Vasin (Dzhem), nicknamed “master of the Far East”, used to be in charge of the legendary gang. By the way, Dzhem and his gang are credited with the invention of AUE (Prisoners and Thugs Unity, PTU) criminal youth subculture. The crowned thief has established an entire youth camp on Malaikin Island in the Amur River. He called it “our little Palermo”. Several brigades subordinate to Dzhem had been searching for street children in Khabarovsk and Komsomolsk. The children were brought to apartments, washed, fed, and taught the ‘right’ ideology. The system created by the thief-in-law continued its existence even after his death in 2001. Obshchak gang was finally busted closer to the 2010s. In 2009, the remaining gang leaders and members were sentenced to severe prison terms. It was Yuri Maslennikov who had provided the key evidence against the Obshchak leaders resulting in their imprisonment.
Dzhem and youth
Krab was arrested in 2009 as well. He was charged with attempted murder and complicity in murder. The CrimeRussia wrote earlier that Krab was accused of the murder of Aleksander Bylkov, owner of Karat Hotel Complex, committed in January 2004 and a shooting attack against a Mercedes car transporting thief-in-law Eduard Sakhnov (Sakhno), then-leader of Obshchak gang, in August 2004.
Sakhno survived the assault but later was convicted under Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The charges laid against Krab were based on confessions of suspected ‘staff killer’ Pavel Tikhomirov (Eger (Jaeger)). In 2011, the Khabarovsk Krai Court has sentenced Tikhomirov to 11 years in a maximum security penal colony for failed assassination of crowned thief Sakhno.
In June 2011 and January 2012, the Prosecutor General’s Office had returned the criminal case against Maslennikov for additional investigation. In both situations, the prosecutors could not find any wrongdoing in his actions. Finally, Krab was released from the pretrial detention facility on bail of 3 million rubles ($47.2 thousand). Then the case was hushed-up.
It is known that Maslennikov has relocated from the Khabarovsk krai to Kolomna, Moscow region some five years ago.
Arrest of Yuri Maslennikov
The third passenger of the fatal flight was 72-year-old colonel general Anatoly Ezhkov, ex-Deputy Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation. He died from heart seizure after the crash landing.
According to the official biography of Anatoly Ezhkov, since June 25, 2001 and until July 2003, he was the Head of the FSB Directorate for the North Caucasus Military District and Chief of the Regional Operations Headquarters for the Counter-Terrorism Operation in the North Caucasus. Up until July 2004, he was a Deputy Director of the FSB. Ezhkov was pensioned off after an attack of Chechen and Ingush rebels on the MIA for the Republic of Ingushetia, base of the 137th FSB border guard detachment in Nazran, city MIA department, MIA warehouses, SWAT bases, and Sleptsovskaya cossack village.
Immediately after the retirement, Ezhkov became the Vice President for Security and Liaison with Governmental Authorities of SIBUR gas processing and petrochemicals company. It is known however that there are no ‘former’ FSB generals.
According to The CrimeRussia source in the Tuguro-Chumikansky District Administration, the three men went on a fishing trip. Businessman Dmitry Melnichenko owns hunting lands not far from Ekimchan and often comes there with his friends for hunting. Our source noted that district residents know general Ezhkov pretty well – he used to frequently come from Moscow to the Far East to go fishing together with the local businessman. Interestingly, district administration officials and people close to Melnichenko call him a local benefactor and philanthropist.
“Sergei had continuously monitored his hunting lands and controlled the carnivorous populations. He established feeding grounds for wildlife and carried out various biotechnical and conservation activities. As a result, the population of hoofed animals on his lands has increased,” – businessman’s brother Dmitry Melnichenko told a local media outlet.
Melnichenko had several helicopters. The businessman had recently provided his new Gazelle 342 aircraft – the one that has later crashed – to ornithologists from the Amur region to count oriental white stork nests. The researchers have flown some 20 hours over remote areas of the Amur region.
According to another insider, officials calling Sergei Melnichenko “a philanthropist” turn a blind eye to the poaching trips of the businessman and his VIP friends. Melnichenko had frequently hosted high-ranked Moscow functionaries and supreme law enforcement commanders in his hunting reserve.