‘Authoritative' life term. ‘Night governor' of St. Petersburg gets additional prison time
This week, the judicial debates in the trial of Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin charged with creation of Tambovskie organized criminal group have been finished in the Kuibyshevsky District Court of St. Petersburg. If the court upholds the stance of the state prosecution, the once-influential criminal ‘authority’ may be convicted to almost 25 years behind bars. In reality, this translates into a life term for the legend of criminal St. Petersburg.
Many experts are puzzled: what was the need for the investigation to produce yet another indictment if Kumarin has already been sentenced to 23 years behind bars? The court may not impose sentences exceeding the maximum limit of 25 years. Taking his health condition, this is the maximum possible punishment for the criminal ‘authority’. But the investigation has its own reasons, including the political significance of the current trial. This is the fifth indictment brought against the businessman. If was of utmost importance for the operatives to charge Barsukov-Kumarin with the creation of a criminal community. Barsukov denies his guilt in assembling a gang that had committed raiding takeovers, extortion, robberies, and other grievous crimes.
The state prosecutor asked the court to impose on the defendant a cumulative sentence of 24.5 years behind bars for the totality of the crimes committed. The defense traditionally objects to the proposed punishment claiming that the prosecution and investigation had failed to present any real evidence of Vladimir Kumarin's guilt. According to his attorneys, the state prosecution tried to prove criminal episodes whose limitations periods have expired a long time ago. The criminal proceedings instituted in relation to these episodes were terminated.
Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin was convicted for the first time in 1985 – for possession of bullets and document forgery. In 1990 he was arrested again, sentenced for extortion, and locked up until 1993. In 2009, Kumarin was convicted for raidership. In 2013–2016, he was tried for the attempted murder of businessman Sergei Vasiliev and murder of his bodyguard and ultimately found guilty. In 2017, his trial for the creation of a criminal community has commenced.
In fact, such ‘tricks’ pulled off by the prosecution are pretty ordinary in the case against Vladimir Kumarin. Take, for instance, the convoying of the defendants to the St. Petersburg City Court in 2013. As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, the epic performance dubbed ‘Broken prison truck’ was truly amazing. At that time, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) was ready to go all lengths to prevent Kumarin from returning to his native city. Now the criminal ‘authority’ is tried in the well-known to him Kuibyshevsky District Court – and nobody is attempting to forcibly release him.
A guy from Muchkap
A native of the Muchkapsky district, Tambov region, Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin will forever remain a prominent figure and hero for his fellow countrymen. All media publications are accompanied by comments from the grateful townsfolk – because he has built roads and erected a fantastic center in Muchkap. In other words, local people are ready and willing to bow down to Kum.
Vladimir Barsukov in his younger days
In Europe, Barsukov-Kumarin is currently considered the official boss of ‘Russian mafia’ – especially after the institution of the ‘Russian mafia case’ in Spain in 2008. In that period, many members of Tambovskie organized criminal group operating under the leadership of Gennady Petrov were detained in Spain in the course of Operation Troika. The foreign law enforcement authorities, including the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office, had no doubt that Petrov was the successor to detained Vladimir Barsukov (Kumarin), leader of Tambovskie gang.
Kum is not called ‘the boss of all bosses’ in St. Petersburg – but still commonly considered a respected businessman. This universal respect had significantly hindered the current proceedings. As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, at some point, representatives of enterprises allegedly raided by Tambovskie gang started withdrawing their claims en masse. Some victims were unwilling to relive old memories about difficult raidership times and seizures of assets, while others have simply disappeared. For instance, two such representatives have literally vanished in the corridor right in front of the courtroom entrance.
Overall, nobody dared to bring any financial claims against respected Vladimir Sergeevich, while big players of the St. Petersburg economic market have withdrawn their complaints.
The criminal case against Tambovskie organized criminal group instituted for raiding takeovers of St. Petersburg Oil Terminal, Pulkovsky Superstore, Krupskaya Confectionery Factory, Sparkling Wine Plant, etc. was dismissed in the course of the preliminary court hearings due to the expiration of limitation periods.
Law of ‘night governor’
The stance of the investigators is pretty understandable. They need to convict Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin as the leader of Tambovskie organized criminal group – even though ‘night governor’ will never get freedom in any event. He has to serve 24.5 years behind bars for the totality of the crimes committed – while the maximum prison term in Russia is 25 years. The age and broken health make it impossible for the legend of criminal St. Petersburg to serve the full term and regain liberty.
Therefore, the current trial does not affect the fate of Vladimir Kumarin in any way. However, it opens exciting opportunities for the investigation. Should the defendant be recognized the leader of Tambovskie organized criminal group, it would be possible to churn out new indictments and charge Kumarin with grievous crimes committed years ago. There are plenty of such unsolved episodes – and an attempt to link him with one of these crimes was already made. As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, this refers to the murder of politician Galina Starovoitova, which still remains, in fact, unsolved – while Deputy and criminal ‘authority’ Mikhail Glushchenko (Misha Khokhol) has made a plea deal to avoid the life term. According to Glushchenko Galina Starovoitova had strongly resisted the infiltration of Kumarin-Barsukov’s henchmen into the municipal authorities. Allegedly, the ‘the boss of all bosses’ of St. Petersburg ‘mafia’ has offered to spare the life of Glushchenko in exchange for such a ‘favor’. Interestingly, the polygraph examination has allegedly confirmed the truth of Glushchenko’s statements.
Mikhail Glushchenko (Misha Khokhol)
By the end of the current ‘judicial saga’ involving Vladimir Kumarin, a new amendment to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation has been approved – Article 210.1 (holding a supreme position in the criminal hierarchy). As envisioned by the legislators, the purpose of this Article is to enable the law enforcement authorities to prosecute leaders of criminal communities who may be not directly involved in criminal operations – but coordinate illegal activities, create sustainable ties between groups, and distribute criminal spheres of influence and revenues. The lawmakers believe that such persons pose the maximum danger to the society.
To neutralize this danger, a new term has been introduced into the Criminal Code: “a person holding a supreme position in the criminal hierarchy”; the amendment stipulates a severe punishment for such people. Sergei Afanas’ev, a defense attorney for Vladimir Kumarin, believes that the investigation was eager to designate his client the leader of a criminal community throughout the entire history of his prosecution. According to Afanas’ev, the sole purpose of the new bill is to facilitate the prosecution of shady criminal leaders.
However, there are no figures comparable with Vladimir Kumarin in the Russian criminal world anymore – and it is unlikely that somebody ever achieves such heights and is nicknamed (even behind his back) ‘night governor’ or ‘boss of all bosses’ of Russian ‘mafia’.
The Prosecutor General's Office had earlier accused the Moscow region’s ex-official of exceeding official authority, taking a bribe on an especially large scale, and forgery, and demanded to seize assets worth of 9 billion rubles ($135 million) from him.