...And other public officials. The last jubilee celebrated by ‘night governor’ of St. Petersburg at liberty
A few months ago, Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin received another prison term – 24 years behind bars – for the creation of Tambovskie organized criminal group. Then he has been charged with masterminding the murder of Deputy Galina Starovoitova committed in 1998. Shortly before the arrest, the almighty ‘night governor’ of St. Petersburg had celebrated his birthday – having no clue that some of the guests will testify against him soon, while others are going to turn their backs on him.
On February 18, 2006, many respected, influential, and ‘authoritative’ people have gathered in Golden Garden Restaurant in St. Petersburg to celebrate the jubilee of another respected, influential, and ‘authoritative’ person well-know far beyond St. Petersburg and nicknamed ‘night governor’ in the capital of the North. Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin, leader of Tambovskie organized criminal group turned 50.
The following members of the business community have come to wish him a happy birthday:
Yuri Antonov — Vice Governor of St. Petersburg in 1997–2002 and President of Petersburg Fuel Company (PFC);
Evgeny Kupsin — businessmen and reportedly the treasurer of Tambovskie gang;
Konstantin Goloshchapov (Kostya Sanitar (Kostya the Nurse) or Padre) also known as ‘Putin’s masseur’ — banker, friend, and business partner of Arkady Rotenberg and Georgy Poltavchenko;
Vyacheslav Kosenko and Leonid Zelensky — judo players from SKA St. Petersburg sports club trained by Vasily Shestakov, the trainer of Vladimir Putin;
Mark Balazovsky — shareholder of Iva Pharm Closed Joint Stock Company and many other pharmaceutical companies; and
Feliks Komarov — antiquarian, gallery owner, and founder of NordStar company.
Politicians and governmental officials:
Aleksei Mitrofanov — then-Deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation from the Liberal–Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR);
Sergei Burlakov — former officer of the Protection Service of the St. Petersburg Mayor;
Andrei Nelidov — Vice Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of the Leningrad Region;
Andrei Rybkin — Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Leningrad Region, native of the Tambov region, and ‘authoritative’ businessman;
Vladislav Ignatov — ex-Deputy and Auditor of the Accounts Chamber;
Vladimir Ostashko — Deputy of the Tambov Regional Duma;
Andrei Popov (Pop (Priest)) — Deputy of the Tambov Regional Duma and ‘authoritative’ businessman; and
Valery Parfenov — Senior Surgeon of the Ministry of Defense.
Aleksander Nevzorov — former journalist and then-Deputy of the State Duma;
Aleksander Rozenbaum — bard and then-Deputy of the State Duma;
Vladimir Vinokur — People's Artist of Russia;
Valery Fokin — Artistic Director of Alexandrinsky Theatre;
Emma Lavrinovich — Director of Oktyabr’sky Big Concert Hall;
Mikhail Leontiev — journalist and host of Odnako (However) Show on Channel One Russia;
Grigory Leps — singer;
Evgeny Kemerovsky — singer;
Soso Pavliashvili — singer;
Bella Kupsina — producer;
Leonid Markin — producer;
Viktor Drobysh — producer;
Aleksander Dostman — producer; and
Viktor Merezhko — script writer, actor, and director.
Shamil Khisamutdinov — Olympic champion in Greco-Roman wrestling;
Igor Shalimov — trainer and football player (Spartak, Inter, Napoli); and
Nikolai Pisarev trainer and football player (Spartak and Dynamo).
Representatives of the criminal world:
Sergei Mikhailov (Mikhas’) — leader of Solntsevskie
organized criminal group
Arnold Spivakovsky-Tamm (Arnosha) — ‘authoritative’ member of Solntsevskie gang;
Semen Mogilevich (Don Simeon, Seva Kievsky) — one of the oldest and most influential mafiosi in the post-Soviet area nicknamed ‘boss of the bosses’ by the majority of Russian–Ukrainian criminal groups and having ties with Solntsevskie gang;
Alimdzhan Tokhtakhunov (Taivanchik) — criminal ‘authority’;
Vyacheslav Drokov (Slava Zina) — member of Tambovskie organized criminal group;
Ovanes Kaplanyan (Nakhalenok) — criminal having ties with Tambovskie gang;
Sergei Lalakin (Luchok (Little Onion)) — leader of Podolskie organized criminal group;
Nikolai Pavlinov (Pavlin (Peacock), Kolya) — ‘authoritative’ businessmen and one of the leaders of Chekhovskie organized criminal group;
Mark Mil’gotin (Marik) — one of the leaders of the ‘Assyrian’ organized criminal group;
Konstantin Vasil’ev (Kostya Shram (Kostya Scar)) — thief-in-law;
Nikolai Kravchenko (Kolya Bes (Kolya Demon)) — leader of Novgorodskie organized criminal group;
Igor Sirotenko (Sirota (Orphan)) — leader of Sirotenkovskie organized criminal group and active participant of the Togliatti Criminal War waged in the 1990s—early 2000s. The war for the control over AvtoVAZ has claimed lives of more than 400 people.
The feast lasted for two days. The second day started from a visit to the Church of the Holy Venerable Martyr Eugenia in St. Petersburg. Then Mitred Protopriest Father Ippolit and Mother Superior Sofia (Silina), Abbess of Novo-Devichy Monastery, joined the guests. Grigory Leps, Tutsi band, Stas P’ekha, Soso Pavliashvili, Evgeny Kemerovsky, and Evgeny Dyatlov had entertained the audience.
Our dear man!
Barsukov-Kumarin was welcoming all guests in the hall. Because he has lost the right hand during an assassination attempt, the ‘birthday boy’ hugged everybody. The majority of the gifts were icons. Everybody have taken their seats at the table – and then the host asked to stand up and applause to the anniversary celebrant and his family. With background music, Vladimir Sergeeivich, his wife Marina, and daughter Masha entered the hall and sat at the central table. The celebration began.
A children’s choir performed a remix of a popular Soviet song entitled “Lenin is always with you” singing “Vova” instead of “Lenin”.
Performances of entertainers were punctuated by jokes of the host and toasts of guests.
Overall, despite some stiff faces, the guests were happy to attend the party thrown by the ‘night governor’. It was a big honor to be invited there. Nobody could imagine at that time that 1.5 year later Kumarin will be arrested for swindling and other crimes.
The arrest of Kumarin turned into an entire special operation. The searches were carried out with the support of the 6th Internal Security Service of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation. FSB general Oleg Feoktistov was in charge of the operation; recently he became famous in relation to the arrest of Aleksei Ulyukaev, ex-Minister of Economic Development. Mikhail Maksimenko, chief escort of Bastyrkin, was in charge of the brigade of Moscow investigators. Last year, Maksimenko was sentenced to 13 years in a maximum security penal colony for accepting a bribe from thief-in-law Shakro Molodoy. His career began in the St. Petersburg Regional Department for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation – so, he was well aware about Kumarin and his deeds.
In late March 2019, yet another sentence was delivered to the once-almighty ‘night governor’ in the Kuibyshevsky District Court of St. Petersburg. Barsukov-Kumarin was sentenced to 24 years behind bars for the creation of Tambovskie organized criminal group. The court established that the defendant was involved, as a member of an organized group, in raiding takeovers of 11 enterprises in St. Petersburg, including St. Petersburg Hotel, Sparkling Wine Plant, Krupskaya Confectionery Factory, Petersburg Oil Terminal, etc.
In 2009, the court has sentenced Kumarin to 14 years behind bars for raidership. Three years later, he was found guilty of extortion from owners of Elizarovsky Trade Center and sentenced to 15 years taking into account the unserved portion of his first term.
In spring 2013, a trial has commenced in relation to the attempted murder of Sergei Vasil’ev, co-owner of Petersburg Oil Terminal Closed Joint Stock Company. In 2014, the jurors have acquitted Kumarin and two other defendants – but the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation has annulled the verdict on the basis of a submission made by the Prosecutor General’s Office and returned the case to the same court for retrial. In 2016, the St. Petersburg City Court found Kumarin guilty of the attempted assassination of Vasil’ev and sentenced him to 23 years behind bars. The Supreme Court upheld this verdict.
In April 2019, the Investigations Department of the FSB Directorate for St. Petersburg charged Barsukov with masterminding the murder of Deputy Galina Starovoitova committed in 1998.
So, what about the people who had attended his birthday party and sworn allegiance and loyalty to the ‘night governor’? Some of them are already dead, some – in detention, while some are trying to conceal their past friendship with Kumarin. Too bad for them, some Ark Trotsky has recently uploaded a video record of that party on YouTube. According to the Investigations Management Center (IMC), this video was seized from the residence of Kumarin on Tavricheskaya street, St. Petersburg. Short fragments of that record were broadcasted on federal channels on separate occasions – but it was never published in full.
Where are you?..
The fates of the people shown in the uploaded video are quite different.
Based on photos published on social networks, the wife and daughter of Barsukov still live in St. Petersburg without any problems. They do not experience financial difficulties and enjoy life.
Mother and daughter
Vladimir Kumarin had married Marina back during the Soviet time. In the 1990s, she changed the last name to Haberlah – the spouses continued living together, but Marina contracted a fictitious marriage with a native of Austria to obtain an EU passport.
Up until 2015, Marina Haberlah was the owner of Kortezh Limited Liability Company – the majority shareholder (75%) of Rzhevka Airport. In 2014, LSR Group has purchased the lands of the former airport (175 ha in total) to build there 1 million square meters of residential premises. The construction was supposed to commence in 2016. However, LSR Group abandoned its construction plants – and the airport was leased to a third party. Currently, only a small private helicopter pad operates there, the majority of lands are leased, while the air terminal building is abandoned.
Daughter Maria graduated from the Faculty of Law of the St. Petersburg State University. Since 2016, she is a co-owner of Fashion Lavka Limited Liability Company – a resale store of brand-name clothes. This is not a big business – the net profit of the store for the year of 2017 was only 275 thousand rubles ($4.3 thousand). Earlier, she was selling games and toys – also without much success. It must be said though that Maria spends the majority of her time not on work – but on elite parties and travels all over the world.
Yuri Antonov is still in charge of PFC. Evgeny Kupsin was involved in the pharmaceutical, construction, hotel, and restaurant businesses in the recent years. He ‘inherited’ inter alia above-mentioned Golden Garden Restaurant used by Kumarin to celebrate his jubilee.
Vladimir Kumarin and Yuri Antonov
Konstantin Goloshchapov has transferred all his enterprises – some 20 companies, mostly development ones, – to wife Iraya Gil’mutdinova and continues receiving governmental contracts.
Pharmaceutical tycoon Mark Balazovsky survived an assassination attempt in 2012. The bodyguard saved him by shielding from killer’s bullets. Both of them were severely wounded – but survived.
In June 2014, the State Duma stripped Deputy Mitrofanov of parliamentary immunity and authorized his prosecution in the framework of a swindling case. This criminal case was instituted back in 2012. The parliamentarian had denied all allegations – and fled to Croatia on the same month on a pretext of medical reasons. Since then, Mitrofanov resides in Croatia.
Andrei Nelidov became the Governor of the Republic of Karelia in 2010. In September 2015, he was arrested on suspicion of bribe-taking. In March 2018, the Petrozavodsk City Court sentenced him to 8 years in a maximum security penal colony, fined 27.5 million rubles ($426 thousand), and stripped of state awards.
Andrei Rybkin, Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Leningrad Region, was detained in 2010 on suspicion of raiding takeover of Peterburgsky Ugolok Restaurant. Vladimir Kumarin was also a suspect in that case. In 2012, Rybkin died in the prison infirmary.
Vladislav Ignatov, ex-Deputy and Auditor of the Accounts Chamber, also died.
Aleksander Nevzorov hadn’t run for the State Duma after 2007. In 2012, he was an aide to Vladimir Putin. Now he is a member of the opposition.
Mikhail Leontiev became in 2014 a Vice President for PR of Rosneft State Corporation.
Arnold Spivakovsky-Tamm (Arnosha), an ‘authoritative’ member of Solntsevskie gang, was found dead in his home in Spain on March 12, 2019. The results of the forensic assessment are unknown yet – but it was established from the very beginning that “no traces of violence were found on his body”. Tamm was one of the primary suspects in a money laundering case; he was arrested in Spain in fall 2017 in the course of Operation Oligarch. In early 2018, he was released on bail of €750 thousand without the right to leave the counrty.
In 2014, the US authorities designated Russian singer Grigory Leps a member of the Brothers’ Circle and prohibited him from entering America.
On the other hand, he was honored with the highest award at home: Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that Leps is the favorite singer of Vladimir Putin and the entire country.
Criminal ‘authority’ Alimdzhan Tokhtakhunov () was also hit by the American sanctions in 2017. The majority of the people put on that sanction list are supposed members of the Brothers’ Circle – but Tokhtakhunov has been charged with bribing a figure skating judge during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. An Interpol Red Notice against him is currently is place – this is equal to an international warrant.
Vyacheslav Drokov (Slava Zina), a member of Tambovskie organized criminal group, was detained six months before the arrest of Kumarin. In 2009, he was convicted together with Kumarin and sentenced to the most severe punishment – 15 years behind bars (Kumarin was sentenced to 14 years). Recently, he was convicted to 21 year behind bars for membership in an organized criminal group.
Nikolai Pavlinov (Pavlin (Peacock), Kolya), an ‘authoritative’ Chekhov businessmen, has been under arrest since August 15, 2017. Pavlinov has been charged with embezzlement of lands, buildings, and structures in the Moscow region for the total amount of 11 billion rubles ($170.4 million).
Mark Mil’gotin (Marik), one of the leaders of the ‘Assyrian’ organized criminal group, died of cancer in 2012. Kolya Bes (Kolya Demon), leader of Novgorodskie organized criminal group, was detained in Ukraine in 2013 and charged with extortion committed using threats of violence and masterminding a murder. A year later, Nikolai Kravchenko was found dead in his cell in the Kiev Pretrial Detention Center. The official version of his death is suicide.
The ladder up going down
Many years ago, Barsukov-Kumarin said he will never be allowed to regain liberty.
“I think that more and more charges pertaining to various crime would be laid against me... Why? Just read my biography,” – he told Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper in 2016.
Vladimir Kumarin was born on February 15, 1956 in the Tambov region. After the compulsory military service, he has reportedly enrolled at the Faculty of Optical and Physical Devices if the Leningrad Institute of Precision Mechanics and Optics. However, he quit the university soon and started working in Leningrad cafes as a doorkeeper, barmen, bouncer, etc.
In 1985, Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin was convicted for the first time– for possession of bullets and document forgery. After being released on parole in 1987, he decided to fully join the criminal world. Together with his fellow countryman Valery Ledovskikh, Kumarin created an organized criminal group. His gang hadn’t possessed enough authority and power at that time and joined large Velikolukskie organized criminal group led by brothers Gavrilenkov and specializing in covering-up thimble-riggers and extorting money from cooperators.
Shortly after that, another legendary group – Malyshevskie (named after its leader Aleksander Malyshev) – started working together with Tambovskie. In 1989, Tambovskie and Malyshevskie gangs had a conflict and waged one of the first criminal skirmishes in Devyatkino neighborhood of St. Petersburg, thus, attracting close attention of law enforcement structures.
Malyshev and another active gang member, Aleksander Petrov, were arrested on suspicion of banditry. Later, both of them have relocated to Spain.
More than 70 active members of Tambovskie gang were prosecuted, including Kumarin; he was sentenced to four years behind bars for arbitrariness (initially he was charged with exertion). In 1990, he was released. In early 1991, Kumarin returned to St. Petersburg and parted ways with Velikolukskie gang.
The criminal group was quickly growing by accepting athletes and former military men (including graduates of military schools) to its ranks and establishing connections with politicians and businessmen. The following persons had ties with the gang: Vyacheslav Shevchenko, future Deputy of the State Duma from LDPR; Viktor Novoselov, Vice Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg; Aleksander Efimov, Director of Skorpion (Scorpio) Private Security Company; his successor Vladimir Ivanchishin (a reserve officer and graduate of the Leningrad High Military School of Railway Services and Military Communications); and many other prominent people. According to the operational data, the gang had some 500 members in that period.
In 1993, Tambovskie criminal group had a conflict with Velikolukskie gang over a businessman covered-up by Tambovskie. The businessman imported into Russia a large shipment of Spanish vines worth almost $1 million. In the course of the revenue distribution, he was killed. In 1994, an assassination attempt was attempted against Kumarin. He survived by a miracle and lost the right hand. Next year, Nikolai Gavrilenkov, one of the leaders of Velikolukskie gang, was killed, while Viktor Gavrilenkov emigrated to Spain. Velikolukskie organized criminal group was dispersed; some 30 its members were killed in skirmishes. As a result, Tambovskie gang became the strongest criminal group of St. Petersburg.
Since the mid-1990s, the gang started legalizing its capitals by laying hands on fuel and power enterprises, credit and financial institutions, and developers. Newspapers started calling them not Tambovskie gang – but Tambovskie business group. Kumarin has even taken the maiden surname of his mother – Barsukov.
Petersburg Fuel Company (PFC) was established in September 1994 at the behest of the St. Petersburg Mayor’s Office. Shortly before that, the city had passed through a series of fuel crises. In 1995, PFC became the fuel supplier for municipal enterprises. In 1998, Kumarin-Barsukov officially became its Vice President. In the end of 1995, the company had leased and owned only 12 gas stations; in the end of 1999 – almost 70 gas stations and 2 petroleum depots. However, this sphere of business was pretty dangerous in that period. For instance, Valery Mandyrkin, Vice President of a subsidiary company of Finnish oil concern Neste Oyj – Neste St. Petersburg, was killed in 1997, while Pavel Kapysh, Director of Baltic Financial and Industrial Group, the main competitor of PFC on the regional petroleum market, – in 1999.
After that, people close to Tambovskie gang started experiencing problems. On October 20, 1999, Vladimir Novoselov was blasted in his car. In 2000, Sergei Shevchenko was arrested, while his brother – put on a federal wanted list and killed in March 2004. In April 2000, Georgy Pozdnyakov, the closest aide of Barsukov-Kumarin, and business partner Yan Gurevsky were assassinated. In December, Vladimir Ivanchishin, Director of Legion-94 Private Security Company (successor to Skorpion Private Security Company), and his driver were gunned down. In anticipation of the gubernatorial elections in St. Petersburg, a smear campaign against Tambovskie gang was launched in the media – newspapers had described in detail its criminal past. As a result, despite his charitable activities, closeness to the Russian Orthodox Church and authorities, and victory in the case against Anatoly Ponidelko, retired Head of the MIA General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, who had called Barsukov the head of an organized criminal group, Kumaring had negatively affected the image of the company.
According to a source close to the PFC management, some partners started terminating the collaboration with it; after the murder of Kapysh, other interested parties stepped up the pressure on it. Therefore, in 2002, Barsukov has resigned from all posts, and the company started denying any ties with him. Although, according to witnesses, Kumarin still had an office in the central PFC headquarters. Kumaring had commented on that as follows: “We specialize not only in petroleum – but in real estate and food sales as well. I believe that this is just the beginning...”
Since then, Kumarin switched to nocturnal and bohemian lifestyle – waking up in the afternoon and receiving visitors during the night in his favorite Grand Palace Restaurant.
Golden Garden Restaurant
He was nicknamed ‘night governor’ for these night receptions. In the same period, Kumarin became an aide to Deputy Aleksander Nevzorov and, according to his own words, had really received the voters of Nevzorov – perhaps, at night, too. In fact, this resembled the lifestyle of thieves-in-law solving problems and controlling various criminal process in the city. For instance, shortly before his arrest, in July 2007, Kumarin had acted as a mediator in the release of children of businessman Pavel Borodulin kidnapped in St. Petersburg.
Therefore, some experts explain the arrest of the ‘night governor’ by the struggle between “the bureaucratic oligarchs and crowned thieves from Moscow” on the one hand and “the new Russian bros’ from Tambovskie community of St. Petersburg” on the other hand: “the capital of the North had clearly spun out of control of the capital of Russia”.
Another version refers to the conflict between Kumarin and business interests of high-ranked officials from the St. Petersburg Administration who had collaborated with him in the 1990s.
Some charges laid against him seem pretty substantiated.
It is known that, after gaining control over PFC, Kumarin expressed interest in the St. Petersburg Oil Terminal specializing in transshipment of oil products in the St. Petersburg Port. The St. Petersburg Oil Terminal reportedly was unofficially controlled by ‘authoritative’ businessman Sergei Vasil’ev. In 2006, an assassination attempt was committed against him. The car of Vasil’ev was gunned down; his bodyguard was killed. Vasil’ev managed to survive. After spending many months in the hospital, he requested protection from Timchenko whose Transoil had exported oil products via the St. Petersburg Oil Terminal.
Speaking of the raidership charges, it is necessary to note that since the mid-2000s, a half of stores on Nevsky avenue were closed – all of them had been seized. People were afraid to run business. In 2003, Valentina Matvienko became the Governor of St. Petersburg, and new business communities started emerging. In 2005–2006, the majority of retailers were looking for premises, and Nevsky avenue was the most lucrative location.
To remind: Barsukov was convicted to 14 years for raiding takeovers of Peterburgsky Dvorik Restaurant at the intersection of Nevsky avenue and Pushkinskaya street and Smol’ninsky Supermarket on Nevsky avenue. A classic scheme was used in both cases: forgery of documents, re-registration at the tax inspection, sale, and resale of the real estate. Now there are three shoe stores instead of Smol’ninsky and Wasabi Japanese Restaurant instead Peterburgsky Ugolok. Natalia Shpakova, owner of Peterburgsky Dvorik and a good friend of Matvienko, recently died of stroke. In both episodes, Barsukov was charged as the mastermind behind the raiding takeovers – although he denies this. But the body of evidence is heavily based on testimonies of a single person – Badri Shengelia – who said in court that he had consulted Barsukov on the legalization of seized enterprises. Shengelia and his people had produced all change of ownership documents for companies seized by the group led by Kumarin.
Badri Shengelia was shot dead on September 17, 2018 while driving his Mercedes outside St. Petersburg.
Vyacheslav Drokov also actively collaborates with the investigation and testifies against Kumarin. Being a ranking member of Tambovskie gang, he can tell a lot. The charges pertaining to the assassination of Deputy Galina Starovoitova are solely based on testimonies of Mikhail Glushchenko (Misha Khokhol) – a former Deputy and ex-criminal ‘authority’ – already sentenced for the murder of the female politician.
Overall, it seems that the principle “nothing personal; this is just business” is now commonly accepted in the criminal world as well.
General’s son Mikhail Sal’nikov, Professor of the Department of Theory of Government and Law at the St. Petersburg University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation, has been detained for real estate fraud. Amid other corruption crimes hitting the headlines, this offense does not seem a high-profile one. But the point is that this is not the first criminal case instituted against professor Sal’nikov, and he is not the only relative of MIA general Viktor Sal’nikov having problems with the law.