Berkut from Novoilyinskie OCG gets 9 years for killing Shabala
Novoilyinskie OCG is one of the strongest organized crime groups of the south of Kuzbass.
Today, the Novokuznetsk District Court delivered a verdict to Evgeny Berdnikov, known among criminals and gangsters as Berkut. He was charged with car misappropriation and murder of Novoilyinskie OCG leader Vitaly Shabalin aka Shabala.
Novoilyinskie is one of the strongest crime groups of the south of Kuzbass. Law enforcers have had the OCG in their sights since the mid-90s. Its organizers Yury Grachev and Oleg Vedenin were once engaged in the shuttle business and then began to provide protection to small traders and kiosk owners in Novoilyinsky district of Novokuznetsk. In August 2001, Yury Grachev was shot dead at a thieves meeting in Novoilyinsky district; his brother Yan Grachev managed to escape. After that, the OCG participants split into three competing groups.
One of such groups, which provided protection to drug traffickers, was headed by Vitaly Shabalin (Shabala). As it was established during the preliminary investigation, the accused and the victim had ‘business’ relations. Berdnikov moonlighted as a driver for Shabalin. The reason for the conflict between them was money. According to the investigation, in the summer of 2015, drug dealers gave Berkut a large sum of money that they earned on selling the ‘potion’. Berdnikov’s task was to hand it over to Shabalin, but the defendant decided to keep most of it to himself. After learning this, Shabala demanded compensation for damage and arrange a meeting with his driver.
In August, the opponents met near the village of Mikhaylovka, but the conversation did not go very well. According to the defendant, the boss began to threaten him with a pistol, but he was able to take hold of his weapon and shot Shabalin for self-defense purposes. The bullet hit him in the head. To conceal the crime, he put the corpse in a car and set it on fire in the forest. Later, Berkut told the drug dealers about eliminating Shabala. Together they went to the location where he left the body of the deceased and the partially burnt foreign car.
At the request of Berdnikov, one of the drug dealers poured gasoline on the car and set it on fire again to completely destroy the evidence. When it got out, the latter became a defendant in the case under Art. 316 (Concealment of Crimes) of the Russian Criminal Code. The defendant fully admitted his guilt. The criminal proceedings against him were terminated owing to the statute of limitations. In addition, the arsonist and his colleague on drug sale became witnesses the case of Evgeny Berdnikov, as well as the defendants in the case of illegal drug trafficking.
After committing the crime, Berkut fled the region. Investigators believe that he left the Kemerovo region not only to stay out of the police’s sight but also fearing the showdowns on the part of the Ilyinskie OCG. As it turned out later, Evgeny Berdnikov went to fight in the Donbass.
In Donetsk People's Republic, the Novokuznetsk native was so selfless that he was decorated with several awards. In 2016, he was seriously wounded and returned to Russia. He decided to settle in St. Petersburg. However, St. Petersburg police detained Berkut, who was federally wanted and transferred him to Novokuznetsk.
The investigative authorities fully proved Berkut's involvement in the massacre of Vitaly Shabalin. As a result, Evgeny Berdnikov was charged with vehicle misappropriation and murder. The defendant did not plead guilty at the preliminary investigation stage. He later changed his position, stating that he had applied the necessary defense measures.
It is noteworthy that this is not the only criminal case against Berdnikov. In May 2015, driving his car along a busy section of Zavodskoe Highway, Berdnikov approached the car of his opponent and opened fire with a traumatic pistol. Saving his life, the wounded driver drove to the oncoming traffic and collided with another car. After the accident, the victim asked for medical help.
Law enforcement officers learned about the settling of criminal scores with shooting in the Ostrovskaya station area. Operatives identified the shooter who was in the gunshot car, including using the dashcam recording. A criminal case under Art. 115 (Intentional Infliction of Light Injury) of the Russian Criminal Code was initiated into this incident.
Evgeny Berdnikov and his friends contacted Zavodskaya police station asking to soft-pedal the case dismissing what happened to the usual ‘bickerfest’. However, the gangsters were told that the shooting was a public outcry and it was not easy to just soft-pedal it. At the same time, it was possible that the petitioners promised a nice monetary reward for the police officers’ services, as false circumstances of the crime were invented. The bandits were offered to find a scapegoat who would take Berdnikov's blame and make a full confession. Such a person was found. However, the case never went to trial, as the FSB intervened.
As a result, the investigator, the head of the criminal investigation department, and the head of the police department were fired and tried for abuse of power and falsification. Former Deputy Head of the police department Roman Romanov was sentenced to 1 year 3 months’ probation; ex-Head of the criminal investigation department Ruslan Yatsenko received similar term (1 year 6 months’ probation). Senior Investigator Anastasia Makarova, responsible for the investigation, was also tried. She was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for “falsification of evidence in a criminal case by a person conducting an inquiry.”
Convicted police officers
Berdnikov himself will not be held accountable for this crime, as the statute of limitations has run out. However, the Court sentenced him to 9 and a half years’ imprisonment for the murder of Shabalin. He himself counted on 6 years, and the state prosecution asked for 16. In addition, Berdnikov must pay the victim’s relatives 800 thousand rubles ($12,984) of moral compensation. He transferred 25 thousand ($405) of this amount on the day the verdict was announced.