“Let’s assume that I have killed them all, that’s true. You have to award a medal to me.” The story of Anatoly Bykov’s ‘empire’ 

“Let’s assume that I have killed them all, that’s true. You have to award a medal to me.” The story of Anatoly Bykov’s ‘empire’
Tolya Byk was considered the ‘criminal master’ of Krasnoyarsk Photo: The CrimeRussia

Many people are aware that that the past of Anatoly Bykov, a politician and ‘authoritative’ businessman, is linked with the criminal world. The media keep a close eye on his operations since the ‘first aluminum war’. But the beginning of the career of the future Krasnoyarsk ‘night governor’ is basically unknown to the public. The CrimeRussia was figuring out how the ‘sports mafia’ under the leadership of Tolya Byk (‘Tolya the Bull’) had managed to defeat the criminal mafia and why the Krasnoyarsk region lost it ‘overseer’.

Today Anatoly Bykov is a respected public figure – a politician, rentier, and philanthropist. The leader of the regional list of Patrioty Rossii (Patriots of Russia) Party. He writes letters to the Russian President on a regular basis – gives advice how to manage the Krasnoyarsk region and entire country. He is very popular among the general public – for almost 20 years, the Siberian people vote either for him or for people chosen by Bykov. Since 1997 and until 2016, he was a Deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk region. The perpetual Honorary President of the Boxing Federation of the Krasnoyarsk region.

Today, the ‘authoritative businessman’ (this nickname had stuck to Bykov long time ago) owns a number or real properties in the center of Krasnoyarsk. He is the President and sole founder of Evropa (Europe) Investment Company owning a business center of the same name. His share in its charter capital is 175 million rubles ($3.1 million).

He also owns Demetra Agroindustrial Complex in the Emelyanovsky district located close to the regional capital.

The ‘authoritative businessman’ spends huge money on charities; he has even founded special Faith and Hope fund. He builds temples for all religions: an orthodox church of Archangel Michael, synagogue, and mosque have been built in Krasnoyarsk on Bykov’s money. At the same time, all the residents, except for the youngest ones, are very well aware of the origin of his wealth. Respectable Anatoly Petrovich had made a fortune in the ‘turbulent 1990s’. In that period, he was called not by the first name and patronymic – but by nicknames Tolya Byk (‘Tolya the Bull’) and Celentano (given for some resemblance to the popular Italian actor).

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The 30-year-old physical education teacher and candidate master of sports in boxing had decided to change the job and focus on the ‘assistance’ to newly-emerged Russian businessmen–cooperators in the end of the 1980s. A source in the regional law enforcement structures told the CrimeRussia that Bykov’s connections in sports had allowed him to gather a ‘brigade’ for ‘protection’ of businessmen – its first members were athletes from Nazarovo Boxing Club. This is how Anatoly Bykov became Tolya Byk. By the way, he never liked his criminal nickname and required to be called by the patronymic, Petrovich.

By the beginning of the 90s’, the small town of Nazarovo became too cramped for the sports gang led by Bykov, and they decided to relocate to the regional capital. But it was not an easy challenge to conquer Krasnoyarsk – by that time, the ‘blue mafia’ (criminals) had ruled the city. Bykov had hated people with tattoos since his childhood and never intended to play by their rules. He had never recruited people with criminal record into his ‘brigade’ and even tried to prohibit smoking and drinking among its members because he had never smoked or drunk in his life. He tried to solve all the issues without extra noise, never participated in skirmishes, and therefore had never come to the attention of the police and had no criminal record – unlike the majority of racketeers of that period. Furthermore, Tolya Byk always tried to establish friendly ties with law enforcement structures; for example, one of his friends and partners was ex-policeman Gennady Druzhinin (currently a Deputy of the State Duma).

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Gennady Druzhinin (left) and Anatoly Bykov

Bykov had always tried to avoid conflicts with the law; as soon as this became possible, he has officially registered his security companies and started the first legal business. In 1990, Bykov has opened STM Company specializing in bottling vegetable oil. But the main purpose of that enterprise was totally different – launder money obtained through racketeering.

The ‘sports mafia’ was not happy with the rule of criminals; Tolya Byk did not want to pay ‘dues’ to the thieves’ pooled cash fund. Therefore, he has decided to purge the city from the ‘blue mafia’. To achieve this, he had to draw close to its leaders first.

In 1991, thief in law’ Yury ‘Fedor’ Fedorov, overseer of the Krasnoyarsk region, had come into a conflict with Moscow ‘criminal authorities’ and was killed. Stanislav ‘Kosyak’ Kulesh, the only ‘crowned thief’ remaining in the city, has immediately assumed this post. But he was busted soon, and the ‘overseer’ position became vacant again. The following local criminal authorities had aspired to it: Sergei ‘Chistyak’ Chistuakov, Aleksander ‘Sinii’ (Blue) Sin’kovsky, Viktor ‘Lyapa’ Lipnyagov, and Yuri ‘Tolmach’ (Dragoman) Tolmachev. In 1992, another powerful criminal group under the leadership of Vladimir ‘Boroda’ (Beard) Zofran had appeared in the city. Within 1.5 year, the brigade of Boroda had become the most influential in Krasnoyarsk thanks to the support of ‘Globus’, a Moscow thief in law.

To defeat the powerful adversaries, Bykov had to ensure patronage of the criminal ‘elite’. Uzbek ‘authorities’ Salim ‘Salim’ Abdulaev and Tofik ‘Tofik’ Arifov started ‘covering’ the ‘brigade’ of Bykov – he had met them via Lev Chernoy, one of brothers Chernoy, whom he was introduced to by Yury Kolpakov, General Director of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminium Smelter.

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Lev Chernoy

Upon establishing ties with ‘criminal authorities’, Bykov has started the active phase of his plan. The thieves were shot dead while smoking on staircase landings and blown in their own cars. After dealing with ordinary criminals, Bykov started dispatching ‘authorities’. In August 1993, Chistyak was killed; a month later Sinii suffered the same fate.

By that time, Lyapa had retired from ‘business’; he had lived, similarly with Lenin, in Shushenskoe township and reasonably accused Bykov of these murders. In order to revenge, he returned to Krasnoyarsk and retained contract killers to dispatch Celentano. Too bad, Lyapa had addressed wrong contract killers: they were members of Izmailovskaya gang having close ties with Bykov at that time, and the leaders of Izmailovskaya gang have turned in the killers to Bykov. He had converted the assassins, and in November 1993, they have cruelly killed Lyapa.

Tolmach, the next to last Krasnoyarsk ‘authority’ alive, has understood what is going on and became very cautious: he moved around only accompanied by a dozen of bodyguards; upon approaching the high-rise building where he lived, he was waiting in the car until the guards check the entire stairway. But all the efforts of Tolmach were in vain: in May 1994, he was shot dead from an air vent in the basement of his own home. The widow of Tolmach had continued the business of her husband; she understood the degree of risk and decided to ‘work from home’ – i.e. never left her apartment at all. But this did not help: a sniper sitting in the opposite house has shot her dead.

As a result, a ‘valley of fame’ has appeared on Badalyk cemetery in Krasnoyarsk – an entire lane of grandiose thieves’ tombs. Funeral music had sounded on this cemetery 2–3 times a month in that period. According to the source, the people of Bykov could be involved into murders of at least 40 persons having ties with the criminal worlds in 1993–1998. None of these murders were solved. After the public shooting of Lyapa – in broad daylight, in his own car, in front of everybody – the local newspapers have published photos of the killers. But even this measure did not help to solve the crime.

It is necessary to note that Bykov had never denied in public his involvement into these crimes. While being in custody in Lefortovo Pretrial Detention Facility, he had even told the investigators: “Let’s assume that I have killed them all, that’s true. But look at those people. You have to award a medal to me under the table for purging the land from such people. But you have put me in jail instead. So, these people are closer to you.”   

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Anatoly Bykov in court, 2000

Upon dispatching Chistyak, Sinii, and Lyapa, Bykov has gained enough power to become a new ‘overseer’ of Krasnoyarsk. But this was not really of interest for him. In addition, a new problem suddenly emerged: upon serving another prison term, thief in law Aleksander ‘Petrukha’ Bakhtin was released from jail. The crime lords from St. Petersburg who had earlier ‘crowned’ him had arrived to welcome him. Being the only thief in law in the city, Petrukha was supposed to become the new ‘criminal master’ of Krasnoyarsk.

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Thief in law Petrukha (upper right)

The appearance of a new figure was unacceptable both for Byk and Boroda, especially taking that Zofran had engaged into violent activity and started successfully laying hands on competitors’ businesses. Therefore, Boroda had attempted to gain support from Moscow ‘authorities’ but in vain. He had to bow to Petrukha. From bad to worse; Yaponchik, one of the most powerful ‘crowned’ thieves, had promised to give not only Krasnoyarsk, but the entire Krasnoyarsk region to Petrukha.

The only figure able to oppose the new ‘overseer’ was Bykov. His friendship with law enforcement authorities had allowed him to overcome Petrukha – together they managed to drive him out of the city. In summer 1994, the people of Bykov have tracked Petrukha and notified the police of his whereabouts. The thief in law was wounded during the arrest and charged with use of violence against representatives of the power. Doctor examined him and said that he needs a surgery that can be made only in St. Petersburg. Therefore, Petrukha was ‘gently’ booted out of the city. Later he wanted to return back to Krasnoyarsk, but Bykov had immediately sent his troops to him, and they convinced Petrukha to stay away from Siberia. After that, other ‘crowned’ thieves have finally understood that coming to Krasnoyarsk is dangerous to health. Boroda has hastily left the city but still was killed.

The victory of the ‘sports mafia’ in the war against criminals was acceptable not only to the local enforcement structures, but to the businessmen as well. A businessman from the 1990s told the CrimeRussia that ‘Bykov’s protection’ was much more convenient and reliable than the criminal one. No attitude, no issues, no unnecessary squabbles – provided that you pay them on time. Competitors coming on a regular basis to offer their ‘services’ were leaving immediately after being told that you are under Bykov’s protection. The cost of his services was slightly higher than, for instance, Tolmach’s protection – but there were additional bonuses in comparison with the criminal ‘cover’: if Bykov’s ‘bros’ were unable to deal with an issue on their own, they were involving the police. Once two ‘lone robbers’ had broken a window and stole lots of stuff from a store belonging to the source. The police helped to locate then, and Bykov’s ‘bros’ have returned the money for the stolen goods and punished the offenders.

By the end of 1995, Bykov had seized full control over the criminal world of Krasnoyarsk. Even ‘feral’ thugs were afraid to conflict with him. Since 1996, all significant criminal structures could operate in the city only with the permission of the ‘night governor’ – this is how Tolya Byk was nicknamed at that time. If some thuggish groups had attempted to rock the boat out of ignorance or lack of experience, they were simply wasted.

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The ties between Bykov and law enforcement authorities were strengthening. Together they had successfully resisted all attempts of outsiders to enter the city. For example, when a brigade of Chechen thugs was sent to Krasnoyarsk, the police had seized their weapons shipped separately, while Bykov’s ‘bros’ had driven the unarmed Chechens to the ice-cold Yenisei River and kept them in the water until they have lost any appetite to come to Siberia again.

The friendship between Bykov and law enforcement structures was so strong that his musclemen had been practicing in shooting in the police shooting range. When one of the Bykov’s thugs had shot a spectator of Azart show in 1995, it turned out that his Makarov pistol was officially registered in the name of a police officer. According to the source, general Boris Petrunin, then-Head of the General Administration for the Krasnoyarsk region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation and a friend of Petrovich, had help to hush-up the scandal. For two days, he and three his deputies were convincing the Prosecutor to reclassify the criminal case under a lighter Article of the Criminal Code. Then the case was dismisses and case file destroyed. In gratitude, Bykov had presented a Grand Cherokee SUV to the general. His assistance was required pretty often, an in the following years, Petrovich had presented to his friend and benefactor three apartments in the city and a huge cottage.

Bykov became the sole crime lord in the city and imposed levies on all Krasnoyarsk businesses. He had forced everybody willing to start a business to pay him – even boys washing cars on gas stations: “They must understand since childhood that they have to pay somebody and get used to it.” But then Tolya Byk realized that protection racketeering of vendor kiosks, markets, parking lots, stores, restaurants, and casinos was too ‘penny-ante’ for him. He was the ‘night governor’ of Krasnoyarsk and wanted more. Then Bykov decided to join the struggle for the regional assets. A coincidence helped him: Yury Kolpakov, General Director of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminium Smelter, wanted to get rid of unwanted interest from Yaponchik and Anton Malevsky, leader of Izmailovaskaya organized criminal group. He had addressed Bykov for assistance, and ‘Petrovich’ gladly agreed to help. In exchange for such ‘protection’, Bykov received 27% of shares in the Krasnoyarsk Aluminium Smelter and over time became the actual head of the enterprise and Chairman of its Board of Directors. However, in order to get rid of claims from the Moscow shareholders and other powerful structures, Bykov had to win the ‘first aluminum war’ broadly covered in media. But the victory was worth the efforts: resources of the Krasnoyarsk Aluminium Smelter allowed him to lay hands on the entire regional industry. He became the owner of the Krasnoyarsk Hydroelectric Power Plant, Achinsk Alumina Refinery, Krasnoyarsk Metallurgical Plant, Krasnoyarsk Railways, a number of coal enterprises, and non-ferrous industry (except for Norilsk). The entire regional energy complex was under Bykov’s control.

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Crowned thief Vyacheslav ‘Yaponchik’ Ivan’kov

The huge empire had generated huge revenues: an accountant who used to work for Bykov at that time told the CrimeRussia that they could hardly count the cash delivered to them. Once they were preparing to buy a biochemical plant in Krasnoyarsk; the accountants had been counting and packing money for the whole day – there were three large bags of cash. Once they had calculated together that in total, some $50 million have flown through their hands in 1997.

Upon becoming the actual sovereign of the entire Krasnoyarsk region, Bykov was ruling it firm, but fair. He tried to be a kind of ‘Robin Hood’ in the public perception – always ready to protect the offended and oppressed. Everybody knew: if a person comes to Anatoly Petrovich and tells the sob story of his/her misfortune, most likely, Bykov would help. Of course, if he decides that the victim was treated in breach of the ‘rules’. But there was always a risk: if Bykov thinks that the other party was right, the applicant would have to ‘put the money where his/her mouth is’.

One of such ‘applicants’, let’s call her Olga, told the CrimeRussia that she was afraid to come to Bykov for long time – she understood the degree of risk. But she had no choice: her husband worked as an engineer at the TV Plant that was not paying salaries for years in the 1990s. Olga was a Russian Language and Literature teacher at school and earned money sufficient only to buy bread and grains. They could afford eggs or milk only for holidays. At that difficult time, their daughter was diagnosed with cancer. To pay for the treatment, the family has sold all their belongings for next to nothing. They had nothing else to sell, only a 2-room apartment where the family lived. Then Olga made a desperate step: resigned from the school and became a salesperson in a commercial kiosk selling everything – from Snickers and Amaretto to pampers and vouchers. It was a risky but well-paid job: Olga had earned in one shift thrice as much as in a month at school. But they still did not have enough money for the treatment, and she had borrowed a large sum from the kiosk owner. She expected to pay it out from her earnings. But two months later, when Olga still had owed some money, the kiosk was burnt. The former teacher lost her job. She was put ‘on a clock’, and her debt has increased by several times soon. The creditors started wrestling the apartment away from Olga. The woman has recognized that she had no choice and decided to ask Bykov for protection. She had literally fallen on her knees and described the situation. Bykov has ruled that she was right, while her offenders had acted against the ‘rules’. He promised to fix the situation, and no one had ever bothered her with the debt since then. Furthermore, on the next day, she received the medicine required for her daughter in the amount sufficient for the entire course of treatment. The messengers did not ask for money but said that this was a gift.

Sometimes it was not even necessary to address Bykov to get help from him. Valery Tereshkin, the choreographer of Jazz Ballet, told the following story: in the morning after one of the first wins at an international festival, two ‘bros’ rang the bell, asked him to go do downstairs, and presented keys from a new VAZ-2109. They said: this is a gift from Bykov, Petrovich congratulates him.

Bykov liked to make ‘handsome gestures’ in public. For instance, he has published the complete works of Aleksander Pushkin at his own expense; provided funding for the most modern orphan home in Russia, built a school, etc.

The ‘popular oligarch’ was taking good care of himself as well. He has built a luxury 4-storey cottage with the total space of 1,000 square meters in his home town of Nazarovo, on the River Chulym shore. The estate featured a sports complex, billiard saloon, stables, and helicopter pad. 

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Mansion in Nazarovo

Portiere curtains for the mansion were ordered in Hollywood, and exotic in Siberia peacocks were walking in the huge courtyard. To protect the owner from any disturbance, footmen with dogs and tower sentinels were guarding the estate day and night.

Bykov has lost his vast and profitable empire as a result of but one mistake. He had supported a wrong candidate at the gubernatorial elections in the Krasnoyarsk region. The authoritative businessman had lived in peace and quiet with the previous head of the region Valery Zubov; he was frequently seen surrounded by officials from the regional administration. Aleksander Uss, Chairman of the Regional Legislative Assembly, was a good friend of Bykov as well.

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Aleksander Uss

‘Black days’ have begun for Bykov when he decided to support Aleksander Lebed. Upon becoming the Governor, the general has betrayed confidence of the oligarch. Instead of helping Bykov to strengthen and expand his ‘empire’ encompassing the entire region by that time, Lebed decided to put him in jail instead. The general had aspired to the Kremlin and needed the resources of the rich region himself; the only way to get access to these resources was to grab the business of Bykov.

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Lebed had acted through the law enforcement structures. They used against the popular oligarch his former ‘brigadier’ Tatarenkov. The thug had relocated to Greece long time ago but has surprisingly provided a testimony against his ex-boss. Initially Bykov was placed into a pretrial detention facility, but then the criminal case against him started collapsing because Tatarenkov had suddenly retracted his testimony. Finally, Bykov was released. Then the enforcement structures have used another associate of Bykov – Vilor Struganov also known as Pasha Tsvetomuzyka (Pasha Son et Lumiere).  

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Vilor Struganov (Pasha Tsvetomuzyka)

The commander of ‘street infantry’ during the ‘aluminum wars’ of 1994–1998 had faked his own death with the assistance of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation – and in 2002, Bykov was sentenced to 6.5 years behind bars conditionally for the attempted assassination of Struganov.

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Bykov still remains a respected figure in Krasnoyarsk

Bykov was released from the court room – but no one had actually intended to lock him in jail. The goal has already been achieved: while the authoritative businessman was in custody, he lost almost all his assets. His ‘empire’ has been pillaged: some enterprises were bankrupted, others changed directors. The police have got an unofficial directive to arrest all Bykov’s people – even for jaywalking. Bykov had to accept the losses and console himself that he still remained a respected figure in the Krasnoyarsk region. He also had to forget about a political career: Moscow has made it clear that a Deputy’s seat in the Regional Legislative Assembly is his upper limit. When Bykov had attempted to run for the Governor’s chair, he was remanded in custody again for a short while.

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