Man of law serving Zakonovskie. Ties between prosecutor Pavlov and local bros
New details appear in the case against Samara prosecutor Andrei Pavlov. These details indicate close ties between the regional law enforcement system and criminal world. The main element of their relations is money. This confirms once again: neither reforms nor salary hikes for law enforcement officials can eliminate the trivial human greed. The main principle of corrupt officers is: if the position allows to make ‘side’ money, you must do so.
Thanks to that principle, Zakonovskie organized criminal group – whose liquidation was announced many years ago – still actively operates in the Samara region. The criminals have withdrawn into the shadows with the assistance of their high-ranked ‘patrons’ in law enforcement structures. Everybody was aware that the gang continues its operations – but officially it was non-existent. Four months ago, Sergei Gafurov, the current leader of Zakonovskie, has been arrested on suspicion of creating a criminal community, and many experts expected this arrest to affect directly his ‘patrons’ in the law enforcement system. Andrei Pavlov, Prosecutor of the Bezenchuksky District, and Vadim Neshchadimov, Head of the Center for Combating Extremism of the General Administration for the Samara Region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation, were the first to get under blow. Pavlov has been remanded in custody, while Neshchadimov is under investigation carried out by the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation.
Arrest of Andrei Pavlov. Photo: Oper Slil (Detective Leaked) Telegram Channel
Andrei Pavlov has been arrested several days ago red-handed during the handover of a bribe. The sum of 750 thousand rubles ($12.8 thousand) had to be transferred to the Prosecutor of the Bezenchuksky District in several installments “for general patronage” of an influential Samara-based organized criminal group. Interestingly, the prosecutor was arrested by FSB operatives right near the Center for Combating Extremism. Vadim Neshchadimov, head of this center, has been under active investigation for several months after the arrest of the leader of Zakonovskie. It can’t be ruled out that he is going to be detained soon as well. Both Pavlov and Neshchadimov may become suspects in a criminal case pertaining to the creation of a criminal community.
37-year-old Andrei Pavlov had served in the prosecution authorities since 2002. Prior to 2012, he used to work as an assistant prosecutor, investigator, senior investigator of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Kuibyshevsky District of Samara, Prosecutor of the Division № 1 of the Investigative Department of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office, Deputy Prosecutor of the Leninsky District of Samara, and Head of the Division № 2 of the Administration for Supervision of the Criminal-Procedural and Operative Investigative Activities of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office. Andrei Pavlov has been appointed the Prosecutor of the Bezenchuksky District of the Samara Region by an order of Yuri Chaika dated December 11, 2013.
Some aspects of the secret life of the district prosecutor became known a couple of days ago. Some Aleksander Orlov has turned the man of law in to the FSB. Currently this person is considered a victim in a criminal case instituted against Pavlov under part 3 of Article 30 and part 3 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (attempted swindling). The monies paid to the prosecutor were a ‘reward’ for his promise to assist in ‘covering up’ illegal parking lots. The operatives have found a bundle of marked bills (72.5 thousand rubles – $1.2 thousand) in the glove compartment of a Toyota vehicle driven by the district prosecutor. According to Orlov, he used to work for Aleksey Ryzhy (Red) Ryzhov, a former leader of Zakonovskie, and supervised illegal parking lots in the district since March 2016. There were some 15 such lots; each had generated some 120 thousand rubles ($2 thousand) per month. When Pavlov was the Acting Prosecutor of the Kirovsky District (up until December 2013) the criminal group had paid him 87.5 thousand rubles ($1.5 thousand) per month for ‘covering up’ the parking lots. Up until April 2016, late Sergei Orlov, a brother of the victim, had delivered the money to Pavlov. At some point, he had served in the police as the head of a special detention room; later Sergei Orlov became a Deputy Head of the Kirovsky District. Pavlov continued taking the money after his appointment the Prosecutor of the Bezenchuksky District. He had assured the criminals that all the issues with the ‘untouchability’ of illegal parking lots would be settled with the new Prosecutor of the Kirovsky District. However, despite the monthly payments made by Zakonovskie, regular inspections of the parking lots started in the last and current years, and five lots were shut down. Aleksander Orlov has understood that the prosecutor was just taking money and doing nothing and submitted a complaint to the FSB.
It is hard to imagine though that the summer arrests of several active members of Zakonovskie and their leader Sergei Gafur Gafurov on the one part and the current exposure of ‘patrons’ in uniform by the gang members on the other part are just a coincidence. The criminals are likely sharing their ‘connections’ in the law enforcement structures with the investigators in exchange for milder sentences – i.e. a kind of bargaining is ongoing.
Despite being caught red-handed, the prosecutor is trying to defend himself. But so far, his attempts sound like a child's talk. Andrei Pavlov claims that he was framed-up. He admits several meetings with Orlov who had allegedly spoken about issues with some parking lots. But he had neither promised anything to Orlov nor taken any money. The prosecutor describes his arrest as a criminal movie. Allegedly, he was about to drive away after the meeting with Orlov – but as of a sudden, Orlov has jumped back into the car and thrown the money into the glove compartment. Then FSB operatives appeared out of sight and blocked his car. The court does not believe this story, and Andrei Pavlov has been remanded in custody for the duration of the investigation – until February 8, 2018. The court has also satisfied the motion to suspend the detained prosecutor brought by the investigation.
By the way, immediately after the arrest of Pavlov, it was reported that he is a close relative of Aleksei Pavlov, Deputy Prosecutor of the Samara Region. Aleksei Pavlov was repeatedly blamed for obstructing the investigation of crimes committed by Zakonovskie. Currently the media are actively refuting the possible family ties between the detained and acting prosecutors.
The MIA General Administration for the Samara region is currently considering a possibility to institute a criminal case under Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Creation of a Criminal Community (criminal organization) and Participation Therein) in relation to the arrest of Pavlov. FSB operatives are checking the possible involvement of Vadim Neshchadimov, Head of the Center for Combating Extremism of the MIA General Administration for the Samara Region, into that case. According to well-aware sources, the high-ranked police officer was an old friend of detained Sergei Gafurov, the current leader of Zakonovskie.
Vadim Neshchadimov has graduated from the Samara Branch of the Elabuga Special Police College of the MIA. In 2002, has graduated from the Eastern Institute of Economy, Humanitarian Sciences, Management, and Law (VEGU Academy) with a major in jurisprudence and became a lawyer. In 1996, was appointed a criminal investigator of the Inter-District Department for Combating Murders of the Administration of Internal Affairs for the Samara Region. In the period of 2013–2015, was the Head of the Administration of Criminal Investigation of the MIA General Administration for the Samara Region. In 2015, has been appointed the Head of the Center for Combating Extremism of the MIA General Administration for the Samara Region.
According to the local media, Vadim Neshchadimov had another, unofficial, job as well. Throughout their entire history, Zakonovskie had successfully settled all the issues with the law enforcement authorities and became a symbol of untouchability. Visits of numerous armed people to restaurants and other public places, motorcades, demonstrative assaults against rivals (for instance, shooting of people on the market in the 15th micro-district of the city or beating of municipal officials), had miraculously eluded the attention of the local police.
After the transfer of high-ranked police functionaries Yuri Sterlikov and Nikolai Turbovets to supreme posts in the General Administration for the Novosibirsk Region in 2015 (these person had claimed several years ago that Zakonovskie organized criminal group was extirpated), other high-ranked Samara police functionaries have ‘inherited’ the ties with the gang. Reportedly, these new ‘patrons’ were Dmitry Bal’kin, Deputy Head of the MIA Administration for the City of Samara, Samara Police Chief Vyacheslav Khomskikh, and Vadim Neshchadimov, Head of the Center for Combating Extremism of the MIA General Administration in the Samara region.
Zakonovskie organized criminal group, also known as Barygi (Speculators), was created by criminal authority Aleksander Zakonov almost 20 years ago, in the 1990s. The bandits had started with trivial racketeering. Then the business interests of the gang have encompassed markets, trade booth chains, parking lots, and boating stations. Since the first days of its existence, the criminal group had controlled Kirovsky flea market, the largest in the Samara region. By the end of the 2000s, Zakonovskie had a diversified business empire involving not only trade operations, but also passenger transportation in Samara and the region, real estate lease, housing and utility services, sand extraction, etc. Cashing out services were of special importance for them not only because these had generated good money, but also because the financial turnover of the gang – both shady and legal – was pretty large. It is necessary to note that Zakonov had prioritized the legal business from the very beginning. Therefore, upon finding a new victim for protection racketeering, the bandits were taking all efforts to transfer a share in the ‘taxed’ enterprise to gang members.
Kirovsky flea market
According to some information, Solntsevskie organized criminal group was the overseer of Zakonovskie. A member of Solntsevskie gang, Petr Gorbatykh (also known as Petya Malen’ky (Petya the Small), Boxer, and Gorbaty (Humpbacked)), was a close relative of Vyacheslav Sorokin who had met Aleksander Zakonov in prison when he was serving his first term. Upon release, the thugs started creating their own criminal group. The authoritative relative of Sorokin from Solntsevskie gang had helped Zakonovskie to establish ‘cooperation’ with the local authorities and police. In 2004, Zakonov was killed. According to the official version, this happened during a card-playing-related conflict. According to the unofficial version, Zakonov was shot dead in plain view of his bodyguards by Oleg Terekhov (Alik Puzo (Alik the Potbelly)), a member of rival Teshchi organized criminal group, in the course of failed negotiations of the distribution of spheres of influence. The murder was reportedly sanctioned in advance. Anyway, after the death of Zakonov, his former bodyguard and driver Aleksei Ryzhov, master of sports in boxing and former special forces trooper of the General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate, became the gang leader. Last summer, Ryzhov died from pancreas necrosis. Then an internal conflict has escalated within the criminal group – several candidates were fighting over the leadership, including Sergei Gafurov (who has ultimately become the gang leader) and Vladimir Izumrud (Emerald) Izumrudov. According to some information, Izumrudov had tried to convince the overseers that he must be in charge of Zakonovskie and even had a trip to Moscow to speak with Petr Gorbatykh who had supported him. After the death of Gorbatykh, it was likely decided to give an exemplary punishment to renegade Izumrud. But by that time, there was no unity in the gang anymore. This explains why a secret witness currently referred to as Netsuke has turned himself in to the FSB in June and provided details of the murder of ex-policeman Vadim Vinokurov that had remained unsolved for three years and had no perspectives. Based on his confessions, four members of Zakonovskie gang were arrested: Radik Khairetdinov, Denis Kovegin, Sergei Psarev, and Aleksander Popov. Vinokurov was gunned down on his motor boat overnight into May 29, 2014.
The body was literally bullet-ridden – the experts found 22 gunshot wounds in it. The victim was a cofounder of Agro-Expert Limited Liability Company and Agro-Expert Semena Limited Liability Company and Chief of Security of Agrolizing Limited Liability Company. But it turned out that his death had nothing to do with the business. According to Netsuke, Vinokurov had signed his own death warrant by making careless statements about Aleksei Ryzhov.
But this was not the end of interesting confessions. Killer Denis Kovegin charged with the murder of Vinokurov told FSB operatives that the arrest has prevented him from assassinating Vladimir Izumrudov. Sergei Gafurov, the current leader of Zakonovskie, had personally instructed him to dispatch the former colleague and today’s overweening rival. The order had been made back in May, and the killer received an advance payment in the amount of 300 thousand rubles ($5.1 thousand) and weapons. In August, Gafurov was arrested, and a month later, the gang’s weapons cache has been found in a country home.
After the arrest of Gafurov, many people thought that the special services have opened a Pandora's box in the Samara region. The consequences were totally uncertain – from a gang war for the ‘newly-vacant’ territory to a transfer of Zakonovskie gang’s assets under the protection of new ‘patrons’ in the law enforcement structures. It was also predicted that the current ‘protectors’ of the criminal group are to sustain ‘casualties’. The arrest of prosecutor Andrei Petrov confirms this. No one can say who may be the next – but it is known that the detained bandits are actively collaborating with the investigation and telling about unknown (or thoroughly concealed) crimes and about those who had covered up these crimes and on what terms.
The founder and president of the Izhevsk football club Gazovik-Gazprom, known today as Zenit-Izhevsk, and the oldest professional football player in Russia has been detained for 48 hours, until the lawyers provide documents confirming that the accused cannot be kept in a pre-trial detention center on medical grounds.