Los' Gang Bubble
It took St. Petersburg's Themis three years to put an end to the gang of Alexander Kuryakov, better known in the criminal capital of the Northern capital under the nickname Los'. It took the investigation four years to collect evidence on 15 crimes, including 6 murders, and only three days to the jury to acquit the majority of the gang members and release them. The prosecutor's office did not lose that loud for a long time.
By a majority of votes
The story of the trial over the gang of Los' is not a boring story itself. At the very beginning, in 2014, when the 68-volume case was sent to court, the parties to the process understood that neither the defense nor the prosecutor’s office would be bored. From the very beginning, the consideration of the case did not work out. On the sidelines of the St. Petersburg City Court, there was no one willing to consider this case and it was redistributed among judges several times. As a result, the case went to a well-known judge Vadim Shidlovsky. Hearing such cases is not new to him. Then came a hitch with a form of justice. The defendants chose a jury, but for a whole year they could not find those who would want to go to the people's judges. Only from the fourth time the administrative office on jury trials was able to assemble a panel with only two reserve judges. Hearings on the case began only in 2015.
Judge Vadim Shidlovsky (left)
The journalists and the public did not know anything about how the process proceeded almost till the verdict. Among the numerous volumes of the criminal case there were materials classified as “secret” and “top secret”, therefore the process was closed to the public at the very beginning. This was due to the criminal intelligence analysis of the drug trade, which, among other crimes, was imputed to the gang members.
Judge Vadim Shidlousky sentenced the members of the nationalist gang of Borovikov-Voevodin on the basis of a jury verdict in June 2011. Then he became an unwitting participant in the subsequent process in relation to a member of the same gang, Andrey Malyugin. According to investigators, Malyugin was preparing an attempt on the judge to avenge the harsh sentence of his associates. On the verdict, Aleksey Voevodin promised the judge “a fierce death”. The judge and his family were guarded by state protection for a long time.
The debates of the parties lasted four days. Prosecutor Larisa Synkova asked the jury to recognize the defendants in the case as guilty on a full scale. The defendants' lawyers insisted on their innocence, focusing on the weak evidence base gathered by the investigation and asked for an acquittal verdict. The questionnaire for people's judges consisted of 108 sheets. In the end, they unanimously acquitted eight out of ten gang members. Among those acquitted is former Police Major, Deputy Head of the operational-investigative unit No. 8, and Head of the 26th department of the Central Internal Affairs Directorate of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region Vladimir Golovkov. It was he who, according to investigators, warned the bandits about raids, operations, and contributed to the arrest of those who were undesirable to Kuryakov.
Alexander Kuryakov (Los')
As a result, only the creator of the group, Alexander Kuryakov, nicknamed Los’ and his twin brother Andrey, were convicted. The latter was only in one episode of drug sales. Seven defendants were released from custody in the courtroom. Thus, only the Kuryakovs and Mikhail Kokotov, who has an unserved sentence in another case, remained under arrest.
Murders from the 90s
If we compare the degree of cruelty, the Los’ gang has a much darker past than, say, the Tambovskaya organized crime group. It is a known fact that in the early 2000s, when Alexander Kuryakov was released after his third sentence, Vladimir Kumarin-Barsukov refused to accept "cuckoo" Los’ back into their ranks. The list of criminal "achievements" of the gang is quite impressive.
The final version of the prosecution read as follows:
Organization of premeditated murders under aggravating circumstances for the mercenary motives of two or more persons;
Organization of the criminal community, which occupies the highest position in the criminal hierarchy;
Creation of a stable armed gang to attack citizens and organizations;
Drug trafficking and others.
The cultivation of the gang lasted a long time. All the existing law enforcement agencies: Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation (UFSKN), MIA, and even the FSB – as they say, "walked around the bush", each at the same time trying to find some kind of "their own" gang, without knowing at all that such a number of crimes was committed by the same group of criminals. All this happened because the gang consisted of four Organized Crime Division (UBOP) officers. Siloviki covered their accomplices with actions and information.
The origins of the Los' gang is in the criminal 90s. After graduating from school, Kuryakov assembled a team of former athletes and began at first to rob cars. Then he came under the “wing” of the Tambovites and engaged in the “protection” of the stalls. Then he turned to robbery, looting and extortion. Was tried three times. The gang operated until 2012. In total, there are seven murders on the conscience of the gangsters, including those committed by the siloviki from the gang, seven episodes of drug trafficking in Russia, Germany and Finland, as well as robbery and extortion.
It is precisely because of its invulnerability that the gang of Alexander Kuryakov took a leading place in the criminal environment of St. Petersburg. The sunset of his criminal glory began in 2010. Employees of the drug control authorities were able to catch in the Vyborg district of Leningrad Mikhail Kokotov, a member of the group. During a search of his car, 460 grams of cocaine were found, then the investigators found a certain garage, where a fabulous catch was waiting for them – 120 kg of hashish and 1 kg of ecstasy. Already then it became known that Kokotov was Kuryakov’s man. In 2011, they were even luckier. While trying to cross the border between Finland and Russia, another member of the gang, Radik Tataev, was detained. 87 kg of hashish was found in his possession. And in February 2012, Mikhail Belykh, Boris Vilensky, and Sergey Bashmakov were detained in Germany, trying to smuggle 56.9 kilograms of hashish into Russia.
One of the searches carried out as part of the Los' OCG case
But this were not the drug police, but the criminal investigation officers, who were lucky. In the same 2012, a certain Mikhail Karetnikov came to them. He wrote a confession and told the truth about the murder of businessman Eduard Pantserko at the Korchma restaurant on Engels Prospect. The businessman was shot at close range, with six bullets fired at him. At the time of the epic repentance of Karetnikov, it was a cold case.
The investigation was started zealously. But in order to catch all the members of the gang, to bring together all the criminal episodes and evidence, it took 4 years. The case was investigated by the best investigators of the Main Investigation Department of the ICR in St. Petersburg, Boris Smirnov, and Alexey Panzhev. At the time of sending the case to the court, the latter seriously stated that the evidence against Alexander Kuryakov and his assistants had been gathered sufficiently.
After such a loud and pretentious statement in 2014, the defense had no choice but to speak out for the press. Thus, the lawyer of Alexander Kuryakov, Igor Sochiyants, in particular, told reporters that in court he would disappoint the investigation as much as he can. “The investigation created a soap bubble called “the case of Los’ gang,” and we blow it away in front of the jury.”
Los' in court
The verdict of the people's judges confirmed the words of the lawyer. The state prosecution has lost this process. Prosecutor Larisa Synkova couldn’t convince the jury that the defendants were practically involved. At one time, Alexey Panzhev said that "the verdict will depend on the ability of the state prosecution to be convincing." From the very beginning, lawyers spoke about the weakness of the position of the prosecution from the point of view of evidence.
It will not be easy for the criminal justice department of the St. Petersburg prosecutor’s office to recover from such a stunning failure.
Of course, the state prosecution will file an appeal with the Supreme Court. True, if we take into account the circumstances of the case, the chance for a review of the case of the Los’ gang is very small. Firstly, the process of filing an appeal and its consideration in the Supreme Court will take at least six months. During this time, the defendants released in the courtroom will flee in different directions and may leave the harsh homeland forever. Nobody will wait for the new visit of the investigators. In addition, it took 4 years to consider the case in court and select the jury. Will the Supreme Court give the Prosecutor’s Office another chance and the same amount of time? Unlikely. Indeed, by that time, in some criminal episodes the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution will expire.
The bubble called the Los’ gang has burst, and only two out of ten will answer for seven killings.
Ekaterina Shakurova, commander of the guard of Chelyabinsk Correctional Facility No. 5, addressed the Investigative Committee chairperson and the Federal Penitential Service director asking to punish her abusers after the charges had been dropped.