Covering up traces. ‘Chebotar’ concealed his criminal past
Is it possible to abandon the past and start a new life from scratch? Especially if you have left a bloody trail behind? Apparently, this is pretty easy nowadays. Sometimes it is sufficient to change name – and voila, you become a completely different person defying the law and retribution. Mikhail Kolmogorov, a businessman and ex-Deputy of a City Council in the Novosibirsk region, – charged with murder, arrested, and released for lack of evidence – is a remarkable example of such a metamorphosis.
A couple of weeks ago, his name and episodes associated with it have hit the headlines again. In mid-August, Mikhail Borisovich Kolmogorov – a full namesake of a person charged with murder several years ago – has won a major contract with the Administration of the Novosibirsk Region. Following an application from the businessman, Governor Vladimir Gorodetsky has ordered to re-zone three allotments of agricultural lands in Verkh-Tula into industrial lands. The total area of the lands is some 1 ha, while their cadastral value is some 21 thousand rubles ($363). According to the documents, the lands are intended for construction of a logistics warehouse complex.
Who is the owner of the future storage depots? It is a businessman, philanthropist, and sports patron well-known in the region. According to Focus.kontur.ru and other open sources, Kolmogorov is the Head of Soyuz-Kapital (Union-Capital) Management Company and owns, jointly with famous developer Gaik Magakelyan, co-owner of Afina Pallada (Pallas Athena) Construction Company, RosMedProm Close Joint Stock Company. He also used to co-own, jointly with ex-partner Valentin Sichkarev, Deputy of the Novosibirsk Legislative Assembly, ProdInvest Closed Joint Stock Company liquidated in 2011. In addition, Kolmogorov is a cofounder of Nedvizhimost K ( Real Estate K) and Biznes Kapital ( Business Capital) Management Company Closed Joint Stock Company. Supposedly, he is (or was) the Director of Union Invest and Rechmarketinvest companies.
Mikhail Kolmogorov is also an ex-President of the Novosibirsk Kickboxing Federation and founder of the Novosibirsk Branch of Sports Russia Volunteer Movement. He has founded this branch jointly with Yuri Kabanov, ex-Head of the Municipal Administration for Sports, Sergei Pil’shchikov, current Head of the Regional Department of Physical Culture, several founders of the Regional Olympic Council, and once-famous athletes. The Regional Branch of Sports Russia was liquidated in 2013.
The case of Kolmogorov-Chebotarev demonstrates that it becomes increasingly difficult to prove the ties of such people with their past.
Mikhail Kolmogorov at sports tournaments
Mikhail Kolmogorov was a Deputy of two convocations of the Kuibyshev City Council in the Novosibirsk region. In 2011, he has voluntarily vacated the Deputy’s seat. All these events pertain to his new life. In the previous live, Mikhail Borisovich Kolmogorov was a criminal ‘authority’ from Kuzbass. His last name in that period was Chebotarev, and ‘bros’ called him ‘Chebotar’.
In the last decade of the 20th century, ‘Chebotar’ was a subject to numerous police inquests. In 1990, he was sentenced to two years behind bars for a theft; in 1995, got a conditional term for robbery. In 1994, at the age of 34, he was prosecuted for illegal storage of firearms. But a year later, ‘Chebotar’ disappeared. Since then, his name was never mentioned in criminal news, neither was he spotted among other criminal ‘authorities’. The person has just vanished. This was not uncommon in that period – many victims of criminal skirmishes are still officially considered missing. Nobody was surprised that another ‘authority’ has shared the fate of other unknown victims of criminal wars. Over time, ‘Chebotar’ has been forgotten – forgotten for almost 14 years, until the arrest of 47-year-old Mikhail Kolmogorov, ex-Deputy of the City Council in one of the districts of the Novosibirsk region, his 38-year-old bodyguard, and two residents of the town of Osinniki in the Kemerovo region by the Investigations Directorate in the Kemerovo Region of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR). According to the investigation, “in 2000, the businessman became aware that his old acquaintance was about to confess to a murder of two people committed in 1998 in Novosibirsk and organized his assassination”. After this statement, journalists have recognized in main suspect Mikhail Kolmogorov a Kuzbass ‘authority’ known as ‘Chebotar’ who had disappeared in the ‘turbulent 1990s’ and reconstructed some episodes of his criminal biography – both before the disappearance and after it.
Mikhail Kolmogorov was a Deputy of two convocations of the Kuibyshev City Council
Interestingly, Chebotarev has vanished amid the first arrests and trials in the framework of the case against the gang of Labotsky–Shkabara – a notorious group of killers well-known in the modern Russian history. The ex-Deputy used to be a member of this criminal community. According to one of the versions, in order to cover up traces and conceal his criminal biography, ‘Chebotar’ had relocated to a neighboring region, entered into bogus marriage, and took the surname of his wife. This is how gangster Chebotarev has disappeared in the Kemerovo region – while businessmen Kolmogorov emerged in the Novosibirsk region.
Concurrently with ‘Chebotar’, another representative of the criminal world – Aleksei Dabeev, ex-member of the gang of Barybin–Shkabara and friend of Chebotarev – had also relocated from Kuzbass to Novosibirsk. It can be said that Dabeev was pretty lucky: after the busting of the gang, he has got a minor prison term for storage of firearms and encroachment on the life of a police officer (that was nothing compared to other ‘deeds’ of the gang). In 1998, he has been released and immediately fled the Kemerovo region. A few months later, the Kuzbass bandit has suddenly voluntarily surrendered to the Novosibirsk police. According to him, on December 12, 1998, he has shot dead two local businessmen, Aleksander Pridnya and Sergei Sidorov, during a drunken brawl in the Zaeltsovsky district of Novosibirsk (their bodies covered with snow were found by passerby people on the local beach). Dabeev has also provided a Makarov pistol used in the murder of the businessmen. The case has been submitted to court pretty soon. But during the trial, the bandit has suddenly withdrawn his earlier testimony and said that his acquaintances from Novokuznetsk, some Kiselev and Pavliashvili, whom he owed money, had forced him to take the blame upon himself. Allegedly, in exchange for this confession, they had promised Dabeev not only to waive the debt but also pay him $15 thousand – but he never saw the money. The new suspects were put on the wanted list, while the defendant has been sentenced to a minor prison term for misprision of criminals. Shortly after his release in 2002, Dabeev was killed – an assassin has gunned him down in the center of Novosibirsk, near the Ascension Cathedral.
The operatives had explored various versions of that crime. According to the Administration for Combating Organized Crime of the General Administration for the Novosibirsk Region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation, Sergei Sidorov killed in the Zaeltsovsky district in 1998 was a friend of Boris ‘Bob’ Kopylov, ‘godfather’ of ‘Pervomaiskaya’ gang of Novosibirsk; therefore, the assassination of Dabeev could be a revenge. Another version had stated that Dabeev was killed by Valery Rozhkov, ‘enforcer’ of the town of Osinniki appointed to overlook the thieves’ pooled cash fund by famous ‘thieves-in-law’ ‘Tristan’, ‘Mamuka’, and ‘Shamaz’. Shortly before his death, Aleksei Dabeev had a traffic accident. He drove his Mercedes for repairs to Osinniky where his acquaintance Rozhkov lived and returned to Novosibirsk. After the repairs, the criminal ‘authority’ allegedly started driving the car belonging to Dabeev and crashed it. Dabeev has scolded Valery Rozhkov in the presence of his three subordinates, thus, signing his own death warrant. According to the investigation, Rozhkov arrived to Novosibirsk together with an unidentified accomplice, tracked down Dabeev, and gunned him down in the same Mercedes that had caused the conflict between the two criminals. There was no need to arrest Rozhkov – by that time, he had already spent several months in the Pretrial Detention Facility № 2 of Novosibirsk and was charged with a series of crimes, including the murder of Vladimir Loginov, the ‘right hand’ of the ‘authority’. However, Rozhkov had denied any complicity in the assassination of Dabeev.
In the meantime, the murder of Pridnya and Sidorov became a ‘cold case’. It has popped-up again only in 2011, during the trial of the gang of Trunov. One of the bandits – professional killer Dmitry Buol’ – has confessed to the murder of Aleksei Dabeev, while other gang members testified that an old friend of Dabeev – ‘Chebotar’ – was involved into the murder of Pridnya and Sidorov. Rumors had circulated in the criminal world that Mikhail Chebotarev was drinking in a company with Pridnya and Sidorov and the peaceful party has turned into a conflict over a woman. Then ‘Chebotar’ summoned a ‘support group’ led by Dabeev that has dealt with the men. After recovering from hangover, Mikhail forced his comrade to surrender to the police and take the blame upon himself. By the way, in addition to Dabeev, the ‘support group’ of Chebotarev had also included Kuzbass natives Kiselev and Pavliashvili – the persons named by Dabeev the masterminds behind the murder of the Novosibirsk businessmen.
In order to question Kiselev and Pavliashvili, the Novosibirsk operatives made a request to the Kemerovo region. It turned out that a criminal case was initiated for the homicide against Kiselev back in 2004. A representative of the Kuzbass criminal world told in 2003 that Rozhkov, Rusinovich, Loginov, and Frolov had killed Kiselev in 1999 as per order from Chebotarev. According to the witness, after the murder of the Novosibirsk businessmen and arrest of Dabeev, Kiselev was hiding in the Kemerovo region and had the imprudence to say that he has tired from the underground life and wants to surrender to the police and confess to the double murder in Novosibirsk. This testimony was the only clue obtained by the investigation – no other pieces of evidence, nor the body of the victim could be found. The case was suspended soon. All attempts to locate Pavliashvili failed – this person has disappeared without a trace at the turn of the century. He could either escape from the accomplices and change name or be buried somewhere.
Scene of the murder of Aleksei Dabeev
In 2011, the investigation of the murder of Kiselev has been resumed. A couple of months later, the Novosibirsk operatives sent to the Kemerovo investigators testimonies given by members of the Trunov’s gang and stating that Mikhail Chebotarev was the mastermind behind the murder of Kiselev. He had developed a plan; according to that plan, Kiselev has been driven from Kemerovo to Novokuznetsk under a vain pretext and one of the defendants threw a noose on his neck in the car and started strangling him. However, the cord tore and the victim attempted to break free; at that moment, the killers dragged him out of the car and another defendant (Rozhkov, ‘enforcer’ of Osinniki) stabbed him in the neck. Then the body was put into a pit in an abandoned garage belonging to Frolov, and the defendants have fled. Upon committing the murder, the criminals have reported to Chebotarev. Later the body has been moved to another location – as it turned out 12 years later, a very beneficial location for Chebotarev.
In other words, Chebotarev has cut off all the traces that could lead to him as the assassin’s paymaster in the murder of Sidorov and Pridnya. By that time, very few survivors had remembered him as criminal ‘authority’ ‘Chebotar’. In the late 1990s, he was Mikhail Kolmogorov for the most people – an aspiring businessmen and politician as clean as a whistle and having no ties with the criminal world. No one noticed at that time that this mav – who has quickly established good connections in various structures, including law enforcement authorities – had emerged from nowhere. Therefore, his arrest in 2012 in Tolmachevo Airport was a true shock for both his colleagues and the public. A
Only a few simple inquiries had to be made to find out that somebody else was hiding under the disguise of the President of the Novosibirsk Kickboxing Federation, successful businessman, and people’s representative. In the mid-1990s, Mikhail Kolmogorov has appeared from nowhere – no relatives, no classmates, nothing. His official place of residence – 16 Chaikovskogo street – was located in a demolished home near the local penal colony. According to the local Civil Registry Office, he has taken the last name Kolmogorov in 1996, after marrying a local resident for a short time. His current wife and children had no idea of the criminal past of their housefather. In fact, no one was really interested in that past – neither when Kolmogorov was running for a Deputy nor when he received a firearms certificate. On the other hand, the secrecy could be of artificial nature – as said above, Kolmogorov had good connections in the authorities and law enforcement structures. It is not a secret that the former criminal had and still has good friends in uniform, including the supreme command of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Novosibirsk Region. Somebody had allowed him to win the elections, live in a nonexistent home, and even register several firearms in his name (according to the law, the police must verify the presence of a strong box in the residence of the firearms owner). There are plenty of photos in archives of local newspapers showing Kolmogorov together with police commanders. Kolmogorov had organized sports tournaments and revered the tradition to hold sports events on the annual basis on the memorial day of Yuri Klimov, a police officer killed in Chechnya.
Arrest of Mikhail Kolmogorov
Businessman and philanthropist Mikhail Kolmogorov has spent slightly more than a year in the pretrial detention facility. The pretrial restriction was extended three times; the court had declined to replace it with a bail or home arrest. However, in April 2013, the court refused to extend the detention term again because the investigation could not provide any evidence of Kolmogorov’s guilt. The case had to be closed because the body of the victim was not found. According to one of the versions, the corpse was thrown into the excavation pit of a trade center under construction in Novosibirsk. The investigators tried to locate the burial place using special criminological equipment received from Moscow, but failed. In addition, the trade center is now seized in the framework of an equally high-profile criminal case pertaining to the bankruptcy of the largest regional bank. The insolvency receivers are desperately trying to sell assets of the bankrupt and refuse to grant a permission to break the pavement. Therefore, no body – no case. It became known that the searches for the body were stopped back in October 2012, after the indictment of Kolmogorov. There is no other evidence indicating the complicity of the ex-Deputy in that crime.
Chebotarev–Kolmogorov was never charged with the murder of the Novosibirsk businessmen – there are no live witnesses able to attest the events dated December 1998. Too bad, but the legend circulating in the local criminal society can’t be added to the case file...
No new information on that case was available after April 2013; the name of Kolmogorov was not mentioned in materials of Novosibirsk and Kemerovo courts anymore. Neither was it mentioned in the press until recently – but then it became known that the Administration of the Novosibirsk Region has allocated lands for warehouse construction to a full namesake of the ex-Deputy accused of murder. It may be concluded therefore that Kolmogorov managed to get off the hook in the episode with the unfound corpse. There is no information about his possible claims against the investigators and operatives and demands for a compensation for a year spent in detention without a valid reason. This allows to suppose that the charges were not baseless – fortunately for Chebotarev–Kolmogorov, the investigation team failed to do its job professionally. There are plenty of examples in the history of criminalistics when offenders were convicted even in the absence of the main evidence – the corpse. Were the investigators lacking professionalism indeed? Or did the high-profile patrons of Kolmogorov put strong pressure on the investigation team? In any event, there is no escaping the fact that an individual managed to beat the system.
The criminal chronicles of Siberia include a similar story – although with a happier (for the law enforcement authorities) ending. In 2004, Yuri Sibukanov, a resident of the Altai krai, was about to fly to Greece to act as a judge at the Olympic Games – but was arrested by the MIA Administration for Combating Organized Crime. The operatives managed to prove that bona fide children’s kickboxing trainer and successful businessman Sibukanov was, in fact, murderer Yuri Kovalenko put on the federal wanted list. In the early 1990s, he used to be a member of a criminal group and was suspected of participation in gunning down three members of another gang. He relocated to a small town, changed his last name and age, married, launched a business, and, similarly with Mikhail Kolmogorov, ran for a Deputy of the Municipal Council. But unlike Kolmogorov, ultimately he has got a 14-year jail term.
Children’s kickboxing trainer Yuri Sibukanov was a murderer
In the late 1990s, many former (and active) members of criminal groups have promptly understood that the parliamentary immunity is a very good thing. As a result, pretty interesting facts have popped-up years later – for example, 93, out of the 450, Deputies of the State Duma elected in 1999 – almost 20% of the deputy corps! – were subjects to investigations carried out by the special services and law enforcement authorities. Every third businessman, politician, or functionary had criminal ties in the biography or even criminal or semicriminal past. According to academician Tatiana Zaslavskaya, some 30% of the supreme elite of the 2000s were representatives of the legalized shady capital and organized crime. A decade later, the situation remains the same. However, the case of Kolmogorov–Chebotarev demonstrates that it becomes increasingly difficult to prove the ties of such people with their past. Especially if these people are proficient in covering up traces.