210. Godfather of Sertolovo mafia facing life sentence? 

210. Godfather of Sertolovo mafia facing life sentence?
According to sources, Leonid Kolesnikov's trouble is due to the efforts of his competitors Photo: The CrimeRussia

A criminal case against Leonid Kolesnikov, a crony businessman from Sertolovo, took a new twist. Searches recently conducted by the FSB and ICR officers and the subsequent discovery of a whole warehouse with weapons can now supplement Kolesnikov's ‘bouquet’ of charges with Article 210 CCRF (organization of a criminal community). According to our sources, this is a ‘hello’ from his rivals, Ilkham Aliyev's gang.

Close the 90s

Kingpin Leonid Kolesnikov arrested with much fanfare in 2017 along with 17 accomplices in a year did not even have time to familiarize with the entire amount of crimes he had been charged with due to their huge number. Kolesnikov and his group are accused of banditry, robbery within an organized crime group and by preliminary conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, illegal sale and storage of weapons. The unexpected large-scale ‘catch’ of the security forces, as the sources say, can add to Kolesnikov’s criminal case not only new criminal episodes but also a new, more serious, accusation of organizing an OCG.

Such a step by the security forces is logical and perfectly understandable: in fact, a lifetime sentence in regards to entrepreneur Kolesnikov would at last mark a decisive end of high-profile crime in St. Petersburg. This would mean that the last member of the Komarovskiye gang finally faces his fate. They say it is the task of the FSB and the investigation to close these ugly pages about the main actors of the northern capital’s criminal environment. Moreover, Sertolovo, as they say, ‘accumulated’ a serious amount of such pages. 

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On August 14, 2018, as part of the investigation into a criminal case, a search was conducted at the unfinished construction site of a 44-year-old resident of the Leningrad Region, who may have been involved in the sale of firearms, ammunition and explosives within Kolesnikov’s gang. During the search, two rifles, one of them with an optical sight, at least 7,000 cartridges of various caliber, 14 improvised explosive devices, 10 grenades, 80 detonator caps, 60 electric detonators, and a shot to the grenade launcher were seized. In addition, 14 shells were found, and, due to the impossibility of transportation, sappers were summoned for their destruction. According to the investigation, from May 2010 to June 2017, the gang led by Kolesnikov committed armed robbery and extortion against citizens and organizations, as well as kidnapping of citizens in order to establish criminal control over them. The gang members kept a large number of firearms, ammunition and explosive devices for their criminal activities.

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The arms cache discovered by siloviki

According to the sources, all these years, the gang has been increasing its power and pace. Five years passed after the high-profile mafia showdowns with the gang of Ilkham Aliyev, also known under the nickname Ilkham-Tulpan and the infamous ‘restaurant war’ extending from Sertolovo to St. Petersburg. During this time, as the criminal reports read, the number of robberies and other serious crimes that occurred in Sertolovo suggested that someone is rigidly ‘holding’ the city and its suburbs and, apart from public catering business, the ‘holders’ substantially expanded the scope of their activities due to trade of vegetables and fruits, extortion and arms trade. The fact that Leonid Kolesnikov was the ‘holder’ and godfather continuing the gangster traditions of the Komarovskie gang was well known. It is not without reason that Mahyaddim Agayev, Ziyafat Piriyev, Khikmet Dzhafarov, Dmitry Gusakov and Sayid Ibishev were named as his closest accomplices. Some of them are people of great interest.

The fruit cartel

For example, Ziyafat Piriyev, according to the sources, is a relative of a high-profile Azerbaijani businessman, Rafael Piriev. The latter is known for his interests in the vegetable retail sector; he also owns hectares of fruit plantations and is said to financially support some of the ‘respected’ businessmen from his homeland. Another accomplice of the godfather of Sertolovo, Khikmet Dzhafarov, a distant relative of mafia boss Roman Dzhafarov, nicknamed Roma Kurd. According to some information, in the Vsevolozhsky region, there is a company engaged in fruits and vegetables trade registered in the name of Khikmet Dzhafarov. By the way, this kind of business is a traditional segment for the Azerbaijani diaspora. As they say, it was this factor that became the point of no return in the local war between Kolesnikov and Ilkham Aliyev. 

Thief in law Romik Kurd

Thief in law Romik Kurd

After his arrest, a part of his restaurant business was shut down (the restaurant Chinar on the Lunacharsky Prospekt, for example, was demolished in 2013, at the same time, a venue in Sertolovo was closed), more than 50 outlets remained at the disposal of Chinar-grupp. The ‘Watermelon King’ Ilkham Aliyev, although suffered great losses, managed to stay afloat. Leonid Kolesnikov was also actively developing his trading market Regina (2,000 sq. m.) in Sertolovo and several mini-markets in the center of St. Petersburg and, in particular, in the Vyborgsky District of the city, where the restaurant Chinar was located and the outlets of Ilkham Aliyev are still present.

Preparation for Chinar restaurant demolition

Preparation for Chinar restaurant demolition

Preparation for Chinar restaurant demolition

Preparation for Chinar restaurant demolition

Preparation for Chinar restaurant demolition

The law enforcement agencies have no doubt that the conflict between the two kingpin businessmen is very old and continues up to this day. As it is known, Aliyev's gang was detained a month after the murder attempt on Leonid Kolesnikov. In August 2016, Ilkham received his sentence – 10 years in a strict-regime penal colony. Considering a year to appeal and other legal shenanigans, it turns out that about the time he was sent to the colony, in the summer of 2017, Leonid Kolesnikov was arrested. 

Trial of Ilkham Aliyev's gang

Trial of Ilkham Aliyev's gang

Now the situation is as follows. As the sources told us, the new productive searches of the FSB and the investigation are another ‘hello’ from Ilkham Aliyev. Simply put, the operatives got a hint that they did not find everything and people still faithful to the Father of Sertolovo remained at large. The rest was a mere formality. 

Finding among the 17 arrested gang members those wishing to go for a plea bargain is just a matter of time. 

A year in custody, as the security forces say, “works wonders.” And if a sincere conversation with closest accomplices was not possible, with some of the young fighters of power support, this, most likely, was manageable. It is known that some of them are not even 30 years old. As they say in law enforcement agencies, “the whole life is ahead.” Kolesnikov understood well that those faithful people who remained at large can make a mistake.

It is no accident that the lawyers have several times petitioned for the release of the defendant from custody due to health reasons (however, the elderly businessman is really not the healthiest person). The court obviously refused to do sent him under house arrest instead. The next hearing will be held on September 17, 2018. In connection with the newly discovered circumstances, the result can be predicted in advance. 

The wolf pack 

At first glance, there cannot be anything in common between the fruit and arms trade. However, in this case, one smoothly flows from the other. For example, many were somewhat embarrassed by the composition of the arrested group. It would seem that the businessman of the old school should not have ‘worked’ with ideological opponents, i.e. the Azerbaijani criminal groups. Nevertheless, the international composition of the gang is easily explained.

In the 90s, the suburbs of St. Petersburg began to be filled with refugees from the Fizuli region of Azerbaijan. The arriving people for some reason chose the domain of the Komarovskiye gang, Sertolovo. For several years, the new suburban residents settled down and then, a leader, a certain Nimat Sardarov, grew up in the diaspora. He led like-minded people to win the streets and business. It was his group who bought two popular restaurants, Chinar and Dolina. Sardarov was young, ambitious and cruel. As the press release of the department for combating banditry of the MIA’s Main Directorate read, he wanted to subdue the whole city and control it. The gang was nicknamed the ‘Wolf pack.’ The war was brutal. The operation to catch the criminals was conducted perfectly. The special operation to eliminate the gang in the police was called ‘The End of the Wolf Pack.’ After the gang was defeated, the best operatives received state awards. Four gang members, however, managed to hide in Azerbaijan, and Chinar remained a stronghold of the diehard gang. 

Former Komarovskie leader, Yury Komarov (Komar)

Former Komarovskie leader, Yury Komarov (Komar)

It is needless to say that the people mafia boss Yuri Komarov were also interested in the disappearance of the latter from their territory. One of them is Leonid Kolesnikov. In order to withstand the force firmly seated in Chinar, the gang needed a powerful arsenal. For over twenty years, the military unit stationed in Sertolovo has been an firm supplier of arms and ammunition to those wishing to use ‘weighty arguments.’ One can buy whatever he wants here. Every couple of years, after catching another seller, a criminal case is initiated here under the article on stealing arms. Their positions vary, from the driver-mechanic to the employee of the commandant's office and even the head of the warehouse. There are indeed a lot of firearms in Sertolovo. 

About two years ago, two young people, having gone on a picnic in the forest, found in the bushes a box with pistols, masked caps and other things necessary for armed assaults. Here is another case: a pensioner digging through garbage cans in search of bottles found on a car wash accidentally found a bag with two pistols, gas and combat with a supressor. The fruit market and outlets are a traditional place of arms trade deals. Hiding a small arsenal among boxes with vegetables and sacks of potatoes is quite easy, as well as casually negotiating a deal buying a bag of apricots. 

Leonid Kolesnikov

Leonid Kolesnikov

Now, the investigation is actively looking for suppliers of weapons from the military depots, because today the case is not only about pistols and cartridges. During the searches at one of the members of Kolesnikov’s gang, shells were found. If the task force succeeds in finding the trafficker, the investigation will have a real chance to transfer the case to a military court. In order to do this, it is enough that at least one person involved in the criminal case serves in the military. Such a turn will deprive Kolesnikov of the opportunity to influence witnesses and ensure an absolute guarantee of the conviction.

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