Everyone knew but was too afraid to say it. United Russia deputies turn out to be members of one of the oldest Russian gangs 

Everyone knew but was too afraid to say it. United Russia deputies turn out to be members of one of the oldest Russian gangs
Double life of Nepomnyashchy Photo: The CrimeRussia

In mid-November, Transbaikal police reported on 2 successful special operations. It arrested 10 active Klyuchevskie gang members in several stages. The gang was created back in the turbulent 1990s. It kept operating in somewhat similar manner with minor adjustment made along the way for over 20 years. The gangsters specialized in violent racketing. At the same time, the gangsters were considered successful entrepreneurs in their home region and even outside of it. The gang’s founders made “double standards” and “double life” an essential part of the gang’s activity back in the 1990s.

Respectable gang representatives would meet with local entrepreneurs pretending to want to have business meetings. They would then tell such entrepreneurs they would have to share their profit from now on. The gang would call and threated those who would not agree to its demands. They would keep doing it for several days. The gang would threaten to kill their families. People would usually agree eventually; the gang was quite infamous. It also robbed shuttle traders buying goods in China. They would ambush them on the roads.

A 46-year-old Kyrgyz Republic resident was one of the victims who went to the police after the gang had bankrupted him. The gang used him to take control over the freight traffic going from the Transbaikal to the central city market. The man had been selling transportation services to Town of Chita merchants. He would use several heavy trucks to ship batches of goods. The entrepreneur ran into problems in 2009. The gang offered a lousy excuse for extortion; it claimed the trucks obstructed the traffic during unloading on the Chkalova Street. The man was forced to pay a 1500 ruble ($25.58) 'fine' for each truck; this would come out to about 15 000 rubles ($255.8) a month. The gang doubled the 'fine' 3 months later. The gangsters then realized the entrepreneur could not fight back and forced him to hand all his Chita clients over to them and took 70% of the money the entrepreneur received from his clients. The gang then took control of his entire business after claiming he had ben concealing a portion of his income from it. The gang demanded a 150 000 ruble ($2557.98) 'fine' for lying to his 'patrons'. The gangsters knew the victims was a Muslim and threatened they would beat him and lock in a container with pig carcasses. The entrepreneur had to take a loan from a bank to pay off the extortionists. The man had no choice but to increase his fee for transporting goods from Transbaikal to Chita to be able to pay the gangsters; this led to him going out of business. The entrepreneur went bankrupt in 2012 after having paid the extortionists about 1.1 million rubles ($18 758.52).

The police carried out a number of searches when investigating the situation in November of 2017. It searched arrestees and confiscated guns, about 2 million rubles ($34.106.4) in cash, and documents proving they had committed crimes on a regular basis. The arrestees have been charged with violation of part 3 of Article 163 (Extortion Committed by an Organised Group on an Especially Large Scale) of the Russian Criminal Code. The gang may have committed other felonies widely covered by the media, including murders, the police believes. A number of defendants have already been charged with murder, according to Crimerussia’s information.

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One of Klyuchevskie

Crimerussia sees 2 of the arrestees charged with murder as being of particular interest. Both were a part of Vladislav Telkin’s, also known as Telych, entourage, according to investigators. Telkin was arrested in Vladimir in October. The 2 men are Aleksey Guskov, also known as Gus (Rus. Goose), and Dmitry Nepomnyashchy, also known as Dema. The former is famous for being the son-in-law of Russian Ministry of Culture Directorate in Transbaikal minister Galina Syrovatka and Legislative Assembly deputy Nikolay Syrovatka back in the day. His former wife Maria Guskova was the acting head of the Russian Ministry of Culture Directorate in Transbaikal for a short time last year. As for Guskov, he was a Chita Town Duma deputy representing United Russia until 2005. He also was a successful entrepreneur and ran the Bogatyr fast food chain.

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Ex-Minister of Culture of Transbaikalia Galina Syrovatka

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Nikolai Syrovatka, deputy of the Legislative Assembly

He was first arrested in September 2005. Not many people saw it coming back then, or not many deputies, at least. The Russian Directorate for Combating Organized Crime discovered an armory full of ammunition, pistols, explosives, grenade launchers, and AK rifles in a garage Guskov rented in a local philharmonic hall. There was enough armament to equip a motorized rifle squad. The law enforcement also found documents (50 Chita residents’ passports, about 30 driver’s licenses from different regions, and 3 police officers’ ID cards lost in different situations), number plates for 3 different Russian regions, and 3 cars there. One of the cars – an UAZ – had been seen at a crime screen a month before the garage armory was discovered; 4 armed unidentified people wearing masks pierced a wheel of a bus with City of Irkutsk entrepreneurs inside. This happened near the Ablatuysky Bor village. The attackers robbed the entrepreneurs who were on their way to China, stealing about 1 million rubles ($17 053.2) from them.

Guskov initially claimed it had been a long time since he last used the garage and had no idea who could equip the armory there. However, the investigators still decided to arrest him. They initiated the process of stripping his parliamentary immunity off him, too. This outraged Chita Town Duma deputies. “I am concerned about the police being able to arrest any deputy so easily. This is a blow to deputies’ reputation. There is no need for such drastic actions even if the police has valid suspicions”, Aleksandr Shchebenkov, one of Guskov’s fellow deputies, said. However, no one listened to the deputies’ protest. The investigators managed to charge Aleksey Guskov with violation of part 3 of Article 162 (Robbery Committed by an Organised Group on an Especially Large Scale) of the 1996 revision of the Russian Criminal Code and part 3 of Article 222 (Illegal Acquisition, Transfer, Sale, Storage, Transportation, or Bearing of Firearms, Its Basic Parts, Ammunition, Explosives, and Explosive Devices Committed by an Organised Group) of the Russian Criminal Code.

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Dmitry Nepomnyashchy (right) and Vlad Telkin

The deputy’s “double life” was revealed during a 2007 trial. The entrepreneur and politician had been a gang member in the mid-1990s that. He would attack people on the Irkutsk — Chita Highway. The Gusevskie gang would disguise themselves as police officers, pull over buses and cars taking shuttle traders to Manchuria, and rob them. The police found police uniform and ID cards during searches. It was possible to charge Guskov with only one count of robbery, namely a March 2000 attack he and other gang members carried out. They threatened verbally and with firearms and physically assaulted 2 Chita residents and stole more than 250 000 rubles ($4 259.7) from them. 3 other “entrepreneurs” were among the attackers, according to the investigators. They are Vladislav Telkin (we will talk about him later), Aleksandr Kudryavtsev, and Igor Degtyarev. The 3 men managed to flee after Guskov was arrested. They were put on the federal wanted list. They are being investigated separately. Degtyarev was caught several months later, Kudryavtsev – in 2009. Telkin managed to remain at large for 12 years. As for Guskov, he agreed to a plea bargain and pleaded guilty to the robbery and illicit possession of firearms charges the investigators had pressed against him. Court sentenced the former deputy to 8.5 years in high-security prison. He was released on parole several years prior to his supposed release.

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Vladislav Telkin, who is also Telich

It is worth mentioning that the gangster’s wife Maria Guskova suffered almost no damage back then. In criminalized Chita, no one bothered asking how she could not know about her husband’s “double life”. She divorced her husband and went on to make a successful career. Maria worked at senior positions at a number of Chita companies, including the Krai government. As for her mother Galina Syrovatka, the Russian Ministry of Culture Directorate in Transbaikal minister at the time, the police gave her a hard time. The woman had to explain why she had rented the garage to her son-in-law.

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Groom - Guskov, the bride - Maria Guskova

Dmitry Nepomnyashchy, another Klyuchevskie member arrested not that long ago, was never publically involved with criminal activities. He began his career as a politician representing United Russia in 2002. He was elected the Town Duma deputy right from the start. He was later reelected 2 times and was a member of the economic policy committee. He even had been the chairman for an anti-corruption committee since 2003, according to some reports. He is famous in the region for being the founder of the Youth Parliament. He had been fighting for its creation in Transbaikal since 2003. The Youth Parliament affiliated with the Transbaikal Legislative Assembly opened 6 years later. However, the young deputy’s political career almost ended 2 times in 2005.

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Dmitry Nepomnyashchy was reported to have been arrested 2 days after Aleksey Guskov’s arrest. The reports were refuted several hours later. The local United Russia political council immediately went to unofficial channels to claim it was a politically motivated move by unnamed entities; the goal was to strike directly at the United Russia and Transbaikal administrations. “Someone will benefit greatly from destabilizing the Transbaikal political climate we have had here in recent years. There are legal procedures to follow should someone go against the law. What we do not need is taking illegal actions against deputies”, the message read. The police then left Dmitry Nepomnyashchy alone for some reason. It either did not have enough evidence to prove he was a part of the crimes or could not take the political pressure and decided that 1 criminal deputy a year is enough for Transbaikal. Court ended up prosecuting only Guskov despite many politicians and local police knowing even back then that both Nepomnyashchy and Guskov are gangsters known by the names of Dema and Gus.

Osinovskie and Klyuchevskie have been believed to be the most dangerous Transbaikal gangs since the 1990s. The Tolstyaki gang – sometimes also called Klyuchevskie after its boss’s last name – gained momentum in the second half of the 1990s. It was founded by: Konstantin Klyuchevsky, the secretary of the Soviet Union Leninist Young Communist League of the Chita Mashzavod plant; his brother Evgeny Zharov; bothers Sergey and Boris Putintsev; Leonid Kalinin. The gang was nicknamed Tolstyaki (Rus. Fatsos) for sturdiness of its bosses. The gang controlled the area where the following facilities were located: central market; Severny micro-district car market; Chita distillery; a number of smaller companies. Klyuchevskie could exert significant influence on the police and government in the 1990s and early 2000s. Many people remember how anyone willing to invest in the Chita region economy had to get Konstantin Klyuchevsky’s approval. The gang had units specializing in racketing, robbery, and road attacks. The gang was up to 100 people strong over the years. Many people who had nothing to do with the worlds of either business or crime fell victims to the gang. A driver who got into a car accident with a Klyuchevskie gangster is one such example. An electrician killed for accidently shutting down power supply to a Klyuchevskie’s store is another example. The gang split in 2 rival gangs in the late 1990s. Klyuchevsky and Zharov led one gang while Kalinin and the Putintsev brothers led the other one.

Leonid Kalinin was killed on May 20, 2004. Three gangsters armed with assault rifles gunned down a car he was in. Kalinin and his bodyguards died in the car. Both Kalinin’s former companion Klyuchevsky and Osinovskie were long suspected to be behind the contract kill. There were plenty of reasons to kill Kalinin. A crime lord known as Gocha had been killed in Chita in the mid-1990s. Kalinin’s gangsters were believed to be behind it. They strangled the crime lord and dumped his body into a trash container. Criminals always get even for such murders. Kalinin’s gangsters also were involved in the murder of one Andrey Baev, also known as Bai. Baev was a close friend of Igor Osintsev. Klyuchevsky and Zharov also benefitted from Kalinin’s death since his gang began gaining momentum and wanted its share of the criminal market. The criminal community initially believed Osinovskie and Klyuchevskie had agreed to kill Kalinin. Igor Osintsev’s gangsters took on the job.

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Killers of the Osinovsky Vitaly Simonov and Vitaly Tolstokulakov

Konstantin Klyuchevsky and Evgeny Zharov were killed the same day a year later. They were assassinated next to the Chita Administration for Architecture and Urban Development at the junction of the 9-go Yanvara and Angarskaya streets; criminal entrepreneurs discussed upcoming expansion of the central market. They were the co-owners of the market. It is believed there were 3 assassins. They wore mask and fired automatic firearms, then fled on a blue foreign-made car.

Klyuchevsky had done everything he could to legalize his business and distance himself from the criminal community as much as possible by that time. He participated in incorporation of a number of companies, including Rynok, Medikon (a Russian-Chinese company), BIOSP, and Konda. He won the Philanthropist of the Year Russian federal competition in 2004. However, Klyuchevsky had problems with the law not long before his death: he got into an argument with two young men and fired a BB gun at them several times. It happened at a local mall parking lot. Court found him guilty and sentenced him to incarceration in prison camp in 2005. However, he was released on parole right in the court room. Evgeny Zharov had also been considered a serious entrepreneur by the mid-200s. He was one of the co-incorporators of Neftetrans and was going to build an oil refinery near Domna.

The last Klyuchevskie founder Boris Putintsev was killed after leaving a federal highway and turning towards the Ivanovka village on September 24, 2009. He had been a deputy repsenting SPS for a while. He was killed several hundred meters away from his car market. Putintsev stopped to talk to workers who were installing an ad banner for the car market. A light-colored Toyota Camry stopped next to his Toyota Land Cruiser and an unidentified shooter opened fire from an AK rifle at the entrepreneur standing with his back towards him. The criminal community believed Osinovskie and Klyuchevskie ordered both this and the Kalinin’s hits. It kept believing in it until Putintsev’s assassination was solved in 2012.

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Boris Putintsev

It is worth mentioning that Klyuchevskie did not collapse or split into smaller gangs after its leaders were killed. The gangsters replaced the killed leaders, kept the name that instilled fear in entrepreneurs, and continued with their criminal activities.

The new Klyuchevskie iteration suffered the first blow after their in-house hitman Vladislav Telkin, also known as Telych, was arrested in Vladimir on October 5. He fled from Chita when the police discovered the garage with the armory inside that Guskov rented 12 years ago. He had been living under an assumed identity until his arrest. He must have had excellent fake documents since he was spotted in the capital of the region numerous times over the years.

Vladislav Telkin joined Klyuchevskie in the mid-1990s. He was a trusted member and was responsible for stealing expensive cars, racketing entrepreneurs, kidnappings, robberies, and assassination of competitors. He may have killed dozens, including local crime lords, according to unconfirmed reports. One such crime lord by the name of Sergey Elgin, also known as Jackie Chan, was shot dead in the Pyaty Ugol bar in Irkutsk in 1997. He used to have control over the Chita central market in the 1990s. He fell victim to unfair competition; Klyuchevskie wanted to take control over the market. Telych killed a Russian Federal Penitentiary Service employee in a road rage accident near the downtown in 2001. Klyuchevskie got into an argument with ten Service employees on their way from a competition. Telych saw he and other gangsters were outnumbered and took a shotgun from his trunk. He took out a knife when the employees took the firearm away from him. A 23-year-old employee literary bumped into the knife and suffered a fatal wound. However, Telkin was not charged with murder; maybe someone managed to persuade investigators his actions were but justifiable defense. The investigators are suspecting Telych of illicit possession of firearms and ammunition, robbing Chita and Irkutsk entrepreneurs, gang violence, contract killing, and kidnappings. He was charged with illicit possession of firearms and ammunition and robbery in connection to the investigation that resulted in Guskov and 2 buddies of Telkin getting custodial sentences that hey already served. It is the same investigation that resulted in Telkin being put on the federal wanted list 12 years ago.

The investigators will also try and prove Telych was involved with another crime – killing Klyuchevskie bosses Konstantin Klyuchevsky and Evgeny Zharov on May 25, 2005. The murder is yet to be solved. Back then, some people believed they were killed due to an argument between Klyuchevsky and one Vladislav T., one of his gangsters. Some people believed that the explosive and extremely violent gangster could order his former boss. Back then, some media outlets speculated that Telkin did kill them but not out of animosity; he was paid by other gang members who wanted to get even for Kalinin’s murder. There was some evidence Klyuchevsky and Zharov had something to do with it.

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At the site of the killing of leaders of the Klyuchevskie gang Konstantin Kluchevsky and Yevgeny Zharov

What could the argument be over? Did it happen to begin with? What did the ‘founding fathers’ of the gang argue with one of their gangsters over? The answer to these questions is quite interesting. It was briefly mentioned back in 2005, when Aleksey Guskov was arrested for and then convicted of illicit firearms possession and robbery while deputy Dmitry Nepomnyashchy, Guskov’s friend, managed to keep the status of a law abiding citizen. Some people think someone tipped off the police about the armory in the garage on the Geodezicheskaya Street next to the philharmonic hall in the fall of 2005; they made it to prevent young and competent Klyuchevskie members hungry for leadership from gaining momentum in the Transbaikal criminal community. A blue foreign-made car with 3 young men inside left the garage several hours prior to Klyuchevsky and Zharov’s assassination on May 26, 2005, according to witnesses interviewed during Klyuchevsky and Zharov’s murder investigation. One of the number plates later confiscated from the garage had been seen at the crime scene. The police learned about the number plates when searching the garage in September 2005, almost 4 months later. The police discovered that the armory did not belong to Guskov and his gangsters; it belonged to Klyuchevsky’s gangsters. Klyuchevsky was the boss of Aleksey Guskov and Dmitry Nepomnyashchy. September 2005 was the time when someone speculated the gang was dealing with infighting again. They suggested it was due to the young generation that used to play supporting roles in the 1990s. Once Nepomnyashchy and Guskov were elected deputies and were presented with new opportunities, they decided to kill their boss Konstantin Klyuchevsky and his right hand Evgeny Zharov and take their place. The young men would quickly gain leadership in the criminal community while having a fairly legal business and parliamentary immunity at the same time; all they had to do was to kill Klyuchevsky and Zharov. This is the reason why crime lord Slava Chitinsky was killed later. The police found firearms similar to those used to kill him in the garage next to the philharmonic hall in 2005. Words of the people saying someone tipped off the police about the garage to set the young Klyuchevskie members up now have weight to them. Gangsters with diplomatic immunity killing their opponents became a threat to many in the Transbaikal criminal community. That is why everything necessary to take them out of the game for a while – or forever – was done.

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However, these ideas were but rumors for the Transbaikal criminal community 12 years ago. Telych, the key suspect who was also suspected of numerous murders, fled from the investigators. But he was finally arrested. Many people expect lots of high-profile arrests of his former companions in the future. This means the Klyuchevskie’s in-house killer began testifying. This gives hope that some high-profile contract murders will finally be solved.

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