Gang led by Volobui terrorized Kursk under ‘patronage’ of officials. Part I 

Gang led by Volobui terrorized Kursk under ‘patronage’ of officials. Part I
How many officials had ‘patronized’ the organized criminal group led by Dmitry Volobuev? Photo: The CrimeRussia

Why can criminal groups in Russia exist for years and even decades? Why is it virtually impossible to overcome the organized crime? The longevity of a gang often depends on its ‘high patrons’. In Russia, Senators, Deputies, and high-ranked law enforcement commanders often provide ‘patronage’ to bandits. Some of them even become gang leaders. In other words, the criminal world is what the state permits it to be.

Take, for instance, Senator Igor Izmestiev affiliated with Kingiseppskie organized criminal group or Deputy Aleksei Peunkov who was concurrently a gang leader. The most recent example is a group of assassins consisting of officers of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation and specializing in contract killings.

On March 7, 2017, criminal ‘authority’ Dmitry Volobuev has been arrested in Kursk and charged with masterminding the murder of his ‘colleague’ – prominent regional criminal Sergei Delyukin (Dilya). In the course of the inquest, more charges have been laid against Volobuev, including the creation of a criminal community. According to the investigation, Kursk Vice Mayor Nikolai Zaitsev, ex-Head of the General Administration for the Kursk Region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation, was a member of this gang. Both the criminal ‘authority’ and high-ranked official have been charged under Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (creation of a criminal community (criminal organization) and participation therein) and face lengthy terms, including life in prison.

Several Kursk businessmen claim that Volobuev had tried to seize their businesses with the support of Zaitsev. It is necessary to note that this criminal case has been reasonably instituted under Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – an organized criminal group had indeed operated in the region.

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Dmitry Volobuev (Volobui) with family

Plenty of contradictory information is available in relation to Volobuev – so, it is virtually impossible to sift out ashes from cinders. Therefore, The CrimeRussia decided to carry out its own inquest. This is the first publication in a series of articles dedicated to organized criminal groups of Russia. We will try to find answers to the most important questions: Who is Volobui, the leader of the Kursk criminal community? How he managed to seize control over many vital spheres in the city? And what ties does he have with local officials and law enforcement commanders?

We are publishing both established facts and testimonies of our sources that must be verified by the law enforcement authorities.

According to a member of the criminal world, Dmitry Volobuev grew up in a peripheral neighborhood of Kursk. Since the early childhood, he was very aggressive and combative. 

— Since the childhood, he was a true ‘wolf’. Had battered everybody at school, even senior students. ‘Controlled’ the entire education establishment. And of course, the family had affected his behavior. Dmitry’s mother – Galina Ivanovna Ryl’skaya – was the director of a vegetable store on Sumskaya street in Kursk. The people have nicknamed it “Glass” or “Aquarium” because its retail space is a large glassed cylinder. At that time, retail was a special sphere... The Volobuev family had many things others could only dream of. Therefore, Volobuev had reasons to consider himself ‘special’. Local hooligans – Pavladar, Bakhta, Stangen, Maradonna – had feared him even when he was young. Volobui was a true hell-raiser. He was not afraid of blood. Practiced kickboxing. Never participated in tournaments but had a phenomenal sense of distance, punch, reaction, feeling of the opponent. At the age of 18 years, he had already controlled a booth selling vodka at the Kursk Tractor Parts Plant. 

Vodka? On tap? 

— Both in bottles and on tap. A funny story once happened with this booth. Imagine: the mid-1990s, no work, devastation. Two of my acquaintances (one of them was a professional boxer) decided to covertly trade ‘firewater'. Where is the best place for this? Of course, near a well-known outlet. They were standing near the booth and offering vodka to drunkards at lower prices. The vendor noticed them, started threatening with the ‘cover' and skirmishes. The guys told her to shove it. She returned back to the booth. No clients – people buy cheaper vodka from the competitors. They are actively trading. Then two other guys approach them – a young man in a trendy leather jacket and a slightly older man. The younger one asks: "What are you doing there? Selling vodka? Do you know whose booth is it?" The traders quieted down. Who knows, maybe the guys are police inspectors? They said that they don't sell vodka. The younger one said: "You don't sell? OK. A mistake". He went to the booth. The vendor went out, pointed at them, and said: "They have screwed up our trade and lured away customers". Their opponent scowled and yelled: "I am Dima Volobui. Aren’t you here afraid of anything?” 

Had they a fight? 

— No. Volobuev’s partner recognized one of the traders and explained Dmitry who was he and what ‘people’ were behind him. They could not simply batter the trespassers. Volobui was aware what an award-winning martial artist can do in a fight. In addition, nickname Vovsya was mentioned in their conversation (Vladimir Povetkin, father of Aleksander Povetkin, former police officer and criminal ‘authority’ controlling Spartak Boxing Club). Volobui never was a fool. The ‘illegal’ vendors went away. Later, Volobui has gathered a ‘team’. One of them – Zhenya Kozheikin – is still with him. He had served the first term for intentional infliction of medium injuries together with Volobui. Faithful as a dog to Dima. Followed him everywhere. It must be noted that Dmitry was very flexible and smart in personnel matters; he preferred to deal not with criminals – but with former law enforcement and military officers. He had highly appreciated personal connections – both his own and possessed by his ‘army’.


Evgeny Kozheikin

Then Volobui disappeared for some time and returned as a wealthy businessman driving an expensive car.


Mansion of Dmitry Volobuev

A former criminal investigator of the Kursk police – retired officer of the MIA Administration for Combating Organized Crime – has commented the above information as follows: 

— Basically, that is the truth. I am not aware of some details, including the conflict around vodka, but the rest is trustworthy. 

According to the retired operative, in the early 2000s, Dmitry Volobuev was mentioned not only in territorial – but also in regional police reports. Volobui was spotted on the border between the Kursk region and Ukraine – with a fake FSB service ID, had pulled off operations with smuggled goods remaining invincible for the police. If arrested, he had provided to the operatives the name of his ‘supervisor' – some Sergei Afanas'evich Podchilimov (currently, a high-ranked official of the Presidential Executive Office). But according to the former policeman, smuggling was neither the primary source of income for Volobui nor the origin of his initial capital. So, where was the money from? 

— Trips to Moscow. Somebody has introduced him to the close circle of Elena Baturina, wife of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Police general Pronin reportedly was the ‘right hand’ of Luzhkov. Based on confidential reports of the MIA Administration for Combating Organized Crime and FSB, in the early 2000s, Dmitry Volobuev and his team of henchmen consisting of Kursk athletes and former special force troops had visited the capital and metropolitan area on a regular basis to batter and intimidate people inconvenient for Elena Baturina and her Inteco company. The ‘fighters’ were not afraid of the police at all. After accidental arrests, they were released nearly with apologies. The ‘brigade’ was ‘covered-up’ at the highest level. 

What was the role of Volobuev? The organizer? 

— No, rather a coordinator – an intermediary between the clients and the thugs. They were fulfilling clients' orders. Apparently, there was strict unofficial control of their operations. If necessary, the group could be neutralized by 3–4 SWAT squads. The boxers won't help against them. But nobody had touched them – so, they had an ‘authorization'. As you understand, I won't repeat my words under oath – this requires reviewing old archives, criminal cases, unsolved violent episodes in cases related to Inteco. The point is that if the ‘patronage' was provided by the MIA General Administration for the City of Moscow, nothing should remain in the archives. The materials had to be quietly destroyed. The archives of the MIA Administration for Combating Organized Crime have partially disappeared after its disbandment in 2008, while the pieces and fragments ‘inherited' by the police have been significantly ‘cleared out'. This happened throughout Russia – not only in Moscow. Unique card catalogs of criminal ties maintained by Soviet operatives since the 1980s were destroyed. Of course, the FSB has its own archives – but this is a secret agency.  

How was Volobui locked up for the first time? With such a ‘cover’? 

— This is an achievement of one person. A principled operative used to serve at the 6th Department of the Kursk Police. He has gathered clear and precise evidence. In addition, Volobui has lost all sense of proportion – got used to his impunity. 

The officer pulls a photo of young Volobui from an operative case file and speaks about the unprecedented destructiveness of his personality.


Young Dmitry Volobuev

— Some leaders act as organizers, creators of good things. But some leaders are disorganizers – they destruct and spread chaos. They are unable to create anything good directly – only indirectly. They efficiently create durable negative structures and select personnel for those. A rare type of people. They have colossal willpower. Not all operatives and investigators could normally talk with him. He had a natural ability to inspire people with fear. He was not a maniac – just a pike in a pond with carps. I believe, it is necessary to identify such people and use them for the benefit of the country. 

For the benefit of the country?

— I can tell you: if Dima were in Salisbury instead of Petrov and Boshirov, the Englishmen would never find anything. He was afraid of only one person in Kursk – his henchman Ruslan Sibilev (Robot). 

For additional information, the source has directed us to a retired Prosecutor for Special Cases who, unlike many other law enforcement officers, was able to withstand conversations with Volobui

Volobuev... Yes, I know him all too well. 

Volobui had enjoyed not only the ‘patronage’ of Nikolai Zaitsev, ex-Head of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region, who was later arrested for ties with Volobuev, and Yuri Pokin’-Boroda, ex-Head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region. According to rumors, he had friendly ties with Sergei Borisovich Golubnichenko, ex-Head of the Department for Special Cases of the Investigations Directorate in the Kursk Region of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR), and Sergei Podchilimov from the FSB. 

The source claims that the official version of the investigation stating that Volobui has established ties with Nikolai Zaitsev, ex-Head of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region, only in May 2013 is “stuff and nonsense”. 

I have a copy of an order to institute criminal proceedings. A colleague gave it to me – the document is circulating in the city.

— Approximately in May 2013, Volobuev, expecting to get administrative support in the concealment of facts, traces, and circumstances of the plotted crimes and general ‘patronage’ in the course of his unlawful operations from a high-ranked law enforcement officer, who has later taken a supreme post in the executive authority of the City Kursk, has involved in the criminal community (criminal organization) created by him N.M. Zaitsev, who was the Head of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region in May 2013 and became on December 24, 2015 a Deputy Head of the Kursk Municipal Administration, as well as his son – V.N. Zaitsev. Both of them agreed to join the above criminal community.


Detained Kursk Vice Mayor Nikolai Zaitsev

— I consider Nikolai Zaitsev not a policeman – but a profiteer. He used to serve in the MIA Administration for Combating Organized Crime. He had transferred there in the early 1990s from some semi-technical subdivision. After joining the MIA Administration for Combating Organized Crime, Nikolai established good relations with his bosses – Ledovskikh and Minenkov (their ‘exploits’ deserve a separate conversation). The career of Zaitsev had skyrocketed; by the early 2000s, he became the Deputy Head for Operations of the Administration for Combating Organized Crime of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region. The number of his achievements in the solution of crimes is comparable with the number of warped people's lives and ‘settled' ‘delicate' issues. He had treated people like dirt. Concurrently, created and protected his own ‘group'. Zaitsev had a simple attitude towards bandits – you either bow to us or perish. He had a great force behind him – in the late 1990s – early 2000s, everybody was afraid of the MIA Administration for Combating Organized Crime. The police, Prosecutor’s Office, and even the FSB had tried to avoid conflicts with this structure. 

When have Volobuev and Zaitsev met? 

— In 2002–2003. By 2013, they have been familiar for at least 10 years. Zaitsev met him by the law of averages. It is necessary to note that Zaitsev hasn’t destroyed Volobuev – but started dealing with him. In other words, they had collaborated.


Nikolai Zaitsev in court

But how could Zaitsev destroy Volobuev? After all, he had a powerful ‘cover’. 

— In that period, the powers of the MIA Administration for Combating Organized Crime and FSB were equal. And the MIA Administration for Combating Organized Crime had stronger enforcement and administrative resources. Trust me, if he had really wanted to put Volobuev in prison – he would do this. Or Volobuev could just disappear. Things happen. But Volobuev was useful for Zaitsev – the policeman could ‘settle issues’, gain information, and affect various events via him. Probably, launder money as well. Nikolai Mikhailovich is a very cunning person. He never does nothing without a purpose. Further events confirm this. What does the criminal case say?

In the period of 2013–2016, D.V. Volobuev, M.V. Pakhomov, E.N. Kozheikin, N.M. Zaitsev, and V.N. Zaitsev, acting as a criminal community (criminal organization) in the interests of the latter persons, had threatened V.I. Shchelkunov with violence during meetings taking place in Kursk, including Shantal Restaurant Complex belonging to D.V. Volobuev and located at 6 Endovishchenskaya street, Kursk, near the home of N.M. Zaitsev located on Tul’skaya Street, Kursk, and in his office in the Kursk Municipal Administration located at 1 Lenina street, Kursk demanding V.I. Shchelkunov to transfer to N.M. Zaitsev and V.N. Zaitsev the ownership rights to his assets of an especially large scale – 20 garage parking spaces located at 38A Pobedy avenue, Kursk and worth 8.2 million rubles ($118.3 thousand) – and forced V.I. Shchelkunov to make, on the free-of-charge basis, fictitious shared construction participation agreements with V.N. Zaitsev who had not really participated in the construction of these real properties.

It must be noted that criminals were extorting assets in the office of Zaitsev. Such an impudence requires some previous experience – but the case file says nothing of this. Perhaps, there are no complainants? Of the investigators don’t want to ‘dig’ too deep? But at least, there is Aleksander Nikitin, former owner of Shantal Restaurant. According to the third source, he was illegally convicted, deprived of his business, and sentenced to 6 years behind bars. During the examination of his case, several judges had recused themselves. We became aware that brothers Volobuev and Nikolai Zaitsev, then-Head of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region, had played the leading role in that litigation. The source claims that Nikitin had submitted complaints mentioning Sergei Podchilimov, the FSB ‘patron’ of the bandits, to all instances. But later it became known that the supreme command has ‘hidden’ him by sending on a service trip and never checked the facts provided in the complaint. 

What you have described means ‘mafia' in the classic sense of this term. A merger of officials and criminals. Why is nobody willing to expose this if everything is on the surface? 

— Not exactly on the surface. What I am saying are my logical conclusions supported by my personal experience. The situation with direct evidence is more complicated. At least, Nikolai Zaitsev has been caught. But I believe that other persons are even more dangerous, for instance, Yuri Pokin’-Boroda, ex-Head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region, and Sergei Golubnichenko, ex-Head of the Department for Special Cases of the Investigations Directorate in the Kursk Region of the ICR. They were also suspected of ties with Volobuev. But there is no direct evidence. 

What about indirect evidence? 

— There is some. I will give you pieces of information – and you try to solve the puzzle. 

The puzzle turned out to be interesting. The collapse of the organized criminal group under the leadership of Volobui has begun with the extradition of active gang member Ruslan Sibilev (Robot, Boxer) from Thailand to Russia. He has no significant sports achievements – but an impressive criminal record: two proven murders, infliction of grave injuries resulting in death, illegal arms trade, arbitrariness committed with the use of violence, etc. Officially, the murders committed by Robot were his personal initiative – but our source believes that the true mastermind behind these crimes was Volobuev using Sibilev to dispatch his enemies and offenders likely responsible for the blasting of his car. By the way, Volobuev lost a fragment of his leg in that blast and was unofficially nicknamed Khromoi (Lame).


Ruslan Sibilev (Robot)

Apparently, Volobui had never given direct orders to kill his rivals Aleksei Ukraintsev and Oleg Afanasiev, criminal leaders of Kursk, – but he has created a situation provoking Sibilev to do this on his own to settle personal ‘accounts’ with the above criminals. The source refers to the letter of Ruslan Sibilev where he describes in detail many criminal episodes committed by the gang. He tells how and in what amounts the monies were delivered to the police and claims that officers of the MIA Administration for Combating Organized Crime had directed complainants to Volobuev for assistance. He exposes schemes pulled off by the gang and who had ‘covered up’ and protected whom. According to Sibilev, “Volobuev had ties with Deputy E.R. Gladkikh who had to transfer a Housing and Utilities Management Company to Volobuev and his henchmen”. Sibilev claims that the criminal ‘authority’ controls many business spheres, his companies are awarded federal contracts in exchange for ‘kickbacks’, while Volobuev himself enjoys “patronage of high-ranked ICR officials in Moscow”. The younger brother of Volobuev “studies at the Kursk State Agricultural Academy together with the son of the Kursk Mayor”.

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Oleg Afanasiev (Shopen (Chopin))

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Scene of the murder of Aleksei Ukraintsev (Ukraina (Ukraine))  

Sibilev states that police colonel Yuri Pokin’-Boroda, Head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the MIA Administration for the Kursk Region, commits illegal machinations and uses his official authority defending the municipal waste dump, including the use of special forces. However, according to Sibilev, the police colonel is an adversary of the gang led by Volobui.


Ruslan Sibilev

That is true. The CrimeRussia found out that, after that incident, Yuri Pokin’-Boroda and Dmitry Volobuev had a ‘shirt-sleeve meeting’ and have likely divided the spheres of their influence and agreed to provide support to each other. Since then, no obstacles were thrown in Volobuev's way, while his operative dossiers were kept half-heartedly. 

In the end of his letter, Sibilev describes the following situation: after being arrested in Thailand, shocked Robot has called to Kursk trying to reach Sergei Golubnichenko, Head of the Department for Special Cases of the Investigations Directorate in the Kursk Region of the ICR. But why? Normally, a person in distress seeks assistance from people close to him and whom he trusts. Of course, it is hard to believe a bandit – especially if high-ranked law enforcement officers refute his words. But the question is: has anybody verified the statements made by Sibilev? Has anybody examined the letter to establish its author? According to our source, the former Prosecutor did not do this. Furthermore, Sibilev was not questioned in detail in relation to his letter – which raises reasonable suspicions.


Ruslan Sibilev

Journalists became aware that the capture of Sibilev became possible only thanks to the efforts of some enthusiastic police officers who managed to put the bandit on the international wanted list for battering and arbitrariness. This was done contrary to the stance of the Regional Investigations Directorate stubbornly ignoring operative data indicating the complicity of Sibilev in murders. 

Our source arranged for us a meeting with an acting officer of the Investigations Directorate in the Kursk Region of the ICR. In the next publication, we will address the financial capacity of the criminal community under the leadership of Dmitry Volobuev, its ‘high patrons’, relations within the gang, its recruiting practices, financial sources, business seizure mechanisms used by it, counter-investigation techniques, etc. This information was never published in the media before.




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