Former Deputy Zirinov facing life sentence for murders and banditry

Former Deputy Zirinov facing life sentence for murders and banditry
Photo: The Kommersant

The jury finished their work late last night and did not find any reason to be lenient to the Krasnodar Deputy who for 15 years has called himself the owner of Anapa.

The jury of the North Caucasus Military Court has returned a damning verdict in the high-profile case against Sergey Zirinov, the former d
Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of Krasnodar Region, and members of his gang.

According to the Kommersant, jury deliberations lasted the whole day. Starting early in the morning with a three-hour speech by the court chairman Oleg Volkov, it continued in the retiring room with the jurors who had received a list of 59 counts from the Judge. Late at night the verdict was handed over to the chairman of the court, followed by bringing the relatives of the defendants in the presence of Special Forces of the Federal Bailiff Service (the hearing was held under enhanced security measures) and the verdict was read out.

Upon the deliberations and studying of the case, the jury established that the defendants Sergey Zirinov and Ambartsum Eiriyan (who was arrested in absentia and is on the international wanted list) had created a criminal community to eliminate competitors in business in 1999.

The investigation found that at various stages of its activity the gang included the former police officer Igor Nekhayenko (who is also on the wanted list), Karnik Aslanyan, Eduard Paladyan, Dmitry Sapozhnikov, Amar Suloyev, Anastas Tilgerov and Andrey Miroshnikov. Zirinov and Eiriyan were the gang's leaders and were fully financing it.

The gang had been operating in the Krasnodar Region for 14 years. By 2013, its members had murdered Vitaly Sadovnichy, the general director of Malaya Bukhta sanatorium, his wife Olga Ivankina, Novorossiysk businessman Salman Nabiyev and Viktor Zhuk, the driver of the Cossack Ataman Nikolay Nesterenko. The driver was killed during attempted assassination of Nesterenko, who himself managed to survive.

Zirinov and Eiriyan led gang was a typical gang with the usual distribution of roles between the members. The gang controlled a significant part of Anapa's businesses and was not trying to conceal the fact - for example, according to the investigation, one of Zirinov's companies was called VAN – abbreviated from Vsya Anapa Nasha (the whole Anapa is ours). Those who did not agree to pay and tried to resist were killed, as it happened to Malaya Bukhta's director Vitaly Sadovnichy who was killed for refusing to comply with Sergey Zirinov's orders. Afterwards, the Deputy bought all the sanatorium shares to resell them.

The Investigative Committee has charged the defendants, according to the role distribution in the gang, with committing a number of grave crimes punishable by parts 1-3 of Article 209 of the Criminal Code (Banditry), part 2 of Article 105 of the Criminal Code (murder of two or more persons), part 3 of Article 30, part 2 of Article 105 of the Criminal Code (attempted murder), part 3 of Article 222 of the Criminal Code (Illegal Acquisition, Transfer, Sale, Storage, Transportation, or Bearing of Firearms).

However, not all of them attended yesterday's hearing. Miroschnik and Sapozhnikov had previously signed an agreement on pre-trial cooperation for which they got 13 and 16 years respectively for assistance to the investigation. A former ultimate fight world champion Amar Suloyev held on charges of attempted murder of Nesterenko died of cancer in June 2016 before the trial was finished.

Despite Zirinov still maintains his innocence of the crimes he is accused of, the military court jury remained adamant. He was found guilty on all 59 counts, for which he faces a life sentence. Anastas Tilgerov, Karnik Aslanyan and Eduard Paladyan have also been found guilty as charged.

At the same time, the jury found Evgeny Aleksandrovich, another defendant, not guilty on all counts of the public prosecution whereupon he was released from custody right in the courtroom. At the end of the session the judge thanked the jury for their courage - in view of the danger from Zirinov's gang, the hearing had been relocated from Krasnodar to Rostov-on-Don, for the reasons including an actual threat of violence both against the judges and the jury in the territory previously controlled by the former deputy.

The meeting on the legal consequences of the jury's verdict is scheduled for September 19.

It would be fair to say that the case against the former deputy Sergey Zirinov has been among the most complex and multi-dimensional ones lately.

Besides the fact that Zirinov is considered by many to be an Anapa appointee by Ded Hasan (Grandpa Hasan, the late thief within the law), which he denies stoutly, experts believe that the case against Zirinov's gang took so long to consider due to Vyacheslav Lebedev, the Supreme Court chairman who has its own interests in previously Zirinov-controlled part of Anapa.

A few sources claim that Lebedev had tried for a long time to save the Anapa's Godfather from a well-deserved severe sentence.



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