Russian siloviki’s criminal clans
Investigating into the activities of Dmitry Volobuev, a major criminal community, and analyzing the trace that the group left in local criminal traditions, our journalists discovered the origins of this criminal formation in the winter of 2018-2019. It was a once powerful police organization with long-standing ties and support at various levels of power, which also had substantial financial resources.
Connected by bonds of mutual assistance and common interests with bandits and officials, the shadowy structure formed a stable regional criminal community in which Moscow appointees to key positions were often powerless against a close-knit team with their own vision of the situation and a kind of long-term planning.
However, this very planning was essentially aimed at one goal – to survive and make money. The syndicate achieved notable success in this field. Acting directly and indirectly, the community almost always achieved its interests (if not strategic, then tactical for sure) and always helped its people in distress (from among those who knew a lot of sensitive information).
The most interesting thing is that this whole construction essentially rested only on a few key figures, the sources of influence and formation of which are rooted in the early 1990s. The circle of people that make up the backbone of the informal “hobby club” was very colorful and diverse, although limited.
The first candidate for “stepping out of the shadows” for us is ex-Deputy Head of the regional Organized Crime Control Department, ex-Head of the Kursk police department, and retired Police Colonel Nikolay Minenkov, who eat one's cake and have it, getting the money and not being jailed. He also managed to get his daughter a job as a federal judge, have his son-in-law take his former place as head of the city central department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and become head of Municipal Unitary Enterprise Spetstrest, which had the entire sphere of funeral services under its control. At the same time, Minenkov someone managed to avoid close public attention and, cunningly tacking between the various “poles of power,” he always found himself riding the wave and not getting into conflicts that could break the necessity and mediation built around him.
The career of the future “chief undertaker” began with the Promyshlenny District Internal Affairs Directorate in Kursk. Being able to always please the higher authorities, the policeman was quickly promoted to work as an inspector of administrative practice. The way things are going nowadays, it is a purely clerical position. Back then, it was very weighty, allowing to decide people's fate and bail out many brawlers and drunk drivers. Back then, there was no electronic databases or strict reporting.
Being happy with what he had, the then-police captain had his stable profit, accumulating and strengthening useful links day after day. New Chief of the Internal Affairs Directorate, Aleksey Volkov, changed it all.
A native of the law enforcement agencies of Central Asia, who worked in Uzbekistan for a long time and absorbed the local traditions, becoming head of the regional police department in 1996, he brought along his friends to the Kursk police department. They included Vadim Okel (who was convicted of fraud and died in strange circumstances during transfer to prison), Valentin Kirsherman (who took the post of chief investigator of the regional Internal Affairs Directorate), Viktor Sorokin (who became the head of the internal affairs department of the nuclear city of Kurchatov and became famous in 2018 as the father of the richest deputy of the Kursk Regional Duma, Aleksey Sorokin), and Vladimir Ledovskikh, who subsequently took the chair of head of the local Organized Crime Control Department. It was him who helped the “grey cardinal” of Kursk police become the most powerful.
It should be noted that before the appointment as head of the Organized Crime Control Department according to the established bureaucratic procedure, Ledovskikh had to gain leadership experience. The platform for such growth was the post of head of the same territorial police department, where the Ledovskikh worked fruitfully. Coincidentally, it was he who was able to resolve the topical housing issue for Ledovskikh, who had been in office for some time, saving him from the prospect of losing his newly acquired housing.
The fact is that after becoming head of the department, Ledovskikh got the temporary use of an apartment on Chernyakhovsky Street in Kursk from the factory of rubber products supervising the district since Soviet times. He was obliged to vacate it after leaving the post of territorial head of the police department, about which he was asked by the director of Rezinotekhniki Valery Pigarev. There were no legal grounds for refusing to leave the apartment, and here the law enforcement officer came to Minenkov’s rescue. Taking advantage of all the resources available to him, he saved Ledovskikh’s dwelling and managed to convince the director of the rubber plant in the benefits of further cooperation.
Since that moment, Nikolay Minenkov’s career really started taking off. Having received the most flattering recommendations from General Volkov with Ledovskikh's help, he got the post of chief of the public security police, and then, without having served a single day, but having the helpfulness and willingness to “delve into question,” he became deputy head of the Organized Crime Control Department of the Kursk region and the second person after Ledovskikh. Simultaneously, prior to joining the Organized Crime Control Department, he improved his situation with housing, having privatized the apartment on Elevatorny Proezd. The circumstances of Minenkov becoming into possession of this apartment are a total mystery. However, one high-ranking officer, who once fell a victim to the provocations of the Kursk Organized Crime Control Department, told us that Minenkov got this property from yet another district factory, Spetselevator Melmash, as a bribe for the non-initiation of a criminal case for the theft of several tons of bronze by the company management. It is hard to say whether it is truth or not. But it is easy to check the ownership history of an apartment.
At this point, we want to cite our source: “The times were simple. If one wanted to register a crime, they did. If they didn’t want to - they covered it up. There were no computers or databases. Total freedom! So they did whatever the hell they wanted. Planting cartridges, drugs, or tons of non-ferrous metals on people - all these things were the same for them.
An interesting description. It gives an understanding of where the aspirations of the described persons were directed and how they met their growing needs. A source who wished to remain anonymous gave us an answer.
“Taking the helm of such powerful organization as the Organized Crime Unit of the late 90s, Ledovskikh, Minenkov, and their patron Aleksey Volkov painted the town red. There are a lot of stories about how they nightmarized and patronized entrepreneurs. How they intervened in the criminal case of crime lord Alexander Kulabukhov aka Kulaba, who was shot with an automatic rifle.
How they put pressure on unwanted police officers... The problem is that there are no witnesses in these cases or they are silent due to circumstances. Therefore, I will tell you how Minenkov bought himself a house (btw, he left the apartment to himself). It was a lot of fuss. Minenkov would switch camps and was eventually forced to leave. These circumstances can be proven.
When Volkov was in charge, the community took many things under their control and clamped down their opponents in the Internal Affairs Directorate under his instructions. That's how they had all the real power in their hands. This is my personal opinion, but it is not far from the truth. Volkov was totally fine with this state of affairs. After learning about his impending dismissal following several scandals involving the murder of people brought to city police departments and a public plot on TV, when employees of the police department (the operational and search department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs specializing in outdoor monitoring) were caught on camera by employees of the Chelovek i Zakon (‘Man and the Law’) show, Aleksey Volkov decided to make Minenkov head of the Internal Affairs Directorate of Kursk. He did this to regularly receive money through Volkov and his team, and not through the new general’s team. Naturally, Minenkov took this offer. He promised to do his best and so on. Volkov trusted him. He believed that Minenkov was under double control.
In the sense that Volkov was about to become State Duma deputy. He could have an informal influence, support, or scare him. On the other hand, trustworthy Vladimir Ledovskikh (who is Volkov’s relative, by the way) remained head of the Organized Crime Unit. So, he thought that Minenkov had nowhere else to go. He looked forward to gettting profit from him, at least a small per cent of profit. Especially since he and Ledovskikh were both involved in the construction of houses by Kurskrezinotekhnika plant head Valery Pigarev. You wrote about this case in the spring materials about Kursk crime lord and OCC leader, Dmitry Volobuev (Volobuy). I have some document to show you. I found it in the archives.
He gets a copy of the document and begins to read the text, part of which we cite below (such were the conditions of our source).
I hereby notify you of violation of applicable law by individual heads of the Kursk Region Department of Internal Affairs, in connection with which, I explain the following:
About two years ago, at the request of a citizen .................................., the prosecutor's office of the Kursk region instituted a criminal case into the theft of construction materials and funds from Kurskrezinotekhnika CJSC (hereinafter referred to as KRT CJSC) for an amount exceeding 7,000,000,000 (seven million) rubles. The following person is suspected of committing this violation: Head of Kursk Internal Affairs Directorate, N.F. Minenkov and Head of the Organized Crime Unit of the Kursk Internal Affairs Directorate, V.V. Ledovskikh, each of whom had two private residential buildings built at the expense of KRT CJSC's funds. As a result of falsification of materials of this criminal case, as well as due to unwillingness to fully investigate it, the Kursk Region Prosecutor's Office unlawfully terminated this criminal case. Head of Kursk Region Internal Affairs Directorate, V.N. Bulyshev had direct interest in the unlawful termination of this criminal case. Instead of providing operational assistance in the investigation of this criminal case, he began to prosecute…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………... All of the foregoing and much more about which I have not yet reported indicates that Head of the Internal Affairs Directorate of the Kursk region V.N. Bulyshev flagrantly violates the current legislation, which in turn casts doubt on the proper implementation of leadership of the Kursk Region Department of Internal Affairs.
I urge you to pay attention to the fact that Head of the Kursk Region Internal Affairs Directorate V.N. Bulyshev wants to make Head of the Organized Crime Control Department of the Internal Affairs Directorate of the Kursk Region, V.V. Ledovskikh, who is suspected of committing a violation, first deputy head of the Kursk Region Department of Internal Affairs.
I ask you to hold officials who illegally terminated the criminal case on the theft of building materials and cash from KRT CJSC, as well as ............................................... accountable. Please inform me of the decisions within the time period established by applicable law in writing at the address of my registration.
What does it prove?
It proves that the houses do exist. They are next door. Built on pretty much the same design (with some minor differences). They were built by Rezinotekhnika workers, who were taken there in the morning and brought home at the end of their shift. If you look through old files, you won’t find any data on the construction of country houses. But this is real. Minenkov and Ledovskikh themselves won’t be able to prove who built their houses. Here are those houses, I know their whereabouts. The picture was taken a few years ago. They’re still there, of course.
So what is not true, if the houses are real?
The information about Ledovskikh, I guess, the fact that Viktor Bulyshev was about to make him first deputy head. He wasn’t. In fact, he hated Ledovskikh. The latter was protected by Moscow Deputy General Volkov. As for Bulyshev, he had his plans and looked for reasons to get rid of Ledovskikh. The latter felt that the circle of power was shrinking around him and he was losing support. So he began to seek support from the “old team” of the Organized Crime Control Department, the criminal police. He contacted Nikolay Minenkov to make sense of it, but overlooked the fact that Minenkov went over to Bulyshev’s side and became indispensable for him. Just like he always wanted. Bathhouse parties, hunting, money sharing, budget development, orders... Everything went through him.
So, we’re talking about one story of corruption in the region. It was not a single one, of course. But the actors were the same.
There were many actors. They had a falling out with Ledovskikh. The irony was that they were neighbors. I can imagine how they spat at each other at the gates and through the fence... But then Ledovskikh went to Moscow. There was some story with a bribe... And then he went back to Kursk, was dismissed, and appointed head of the security service at some university. He must have thought it was a downward spiral. While Nikolay was sitting pretty. He was head of the Kursk City Police and made his son-in-law (Aleksey Moskalev) a head of a department. He made his daughter a judge. Who’d believe it was a coincidence? When the father is a MIA head, and his daughter is a judge. Minenkov was supported by his trusted henchmen, Nikolay Zaytsev and Oleg Kutsevalov; you wrote about them. Also Moskalev. They were always in the same team when people were searched on instructions from Ledovskikh. Then they sided with Minenkov.
This is called “political sense.” Is this what they call it?
You’re right. I’ve been there myself, but it was just too cynical. In all fairness, Minenkov did have a gut instinct. He managed to keep city gangs in leash and gained the trust of Kursk Mayor Nikolay Ovcharov. Not just anybody can become head of the Municipal Unitary Enterprise Spestrest of the Kursk administration. Everyone paid him tribute. Volobuy, Vitya Pan’s (thief in law Viktor Panyushin) people, officials, street vendors, markets. But then he ran into some trouble. In 2010, some dexterous lawyer filed a complaint, saying that the father-in-law (Nikolay Minenkov) was a direct manager of his son-in-law (Aleksey Moskalev). He managed to do what all the “truth-seekers” could not achieve with their letters, like the one that I read... At the family council, it was decided that the “old” man was to leave, the “young” was to stay. Correspondingly, he was to be promoted. Naturally, his father-in-law was to help him. He was his guardian angel. Being good friends with Head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Directorate in the Oryol region, Yury Savenkov, Minenkov always protected his son-in-law with his help. Even when his fate appeared touch and go. All it took was a visit to Oryol or a telephone call - and the trouble was one. Life was just a bowl of cherries! Until recently. New Head of the regional Ministry of Internal Affairs Directorate (also an Oryol native) Viktor Kosarev put the screws on Aleksey Vladimirovich. This time, his protection faltered. I can’t tell what was the reason for this. But it must be logical result of the change of clans and “masters” of the city.
Big fish eat the little ones?
Yep. Is it even surprising? Minenkov had nothing left but his connections and his Mr Nice Guy fame. His old friend Nikolay Zaytsev is in a pre-trial detention center and will soon be imprisoned. If he “talks,” lots of people will join him, including Minenkov. Once untouchable, Dmitry Volobuev is also in prison, just like Zaytsev. The son-in-law is but a pet project. He does have some administrative leverage, but that’s it. He's not even close to his father-in-law. As for the daughter, she's a judge. On the one hand, she has immunity and status. On the other, anyone can raise the question as to how can a husband be head of the city Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and his wife a judge in the same city. There are strong indications of a conflict of interest. What’s the conclusion? It is simple. Their power is only external. Any powerful blow from the outside with the involvement of a good resource will easily overturn their seemingly unshakable support... And the organization that Minenkov and others like him have been fostering for so long has now broken up and has no real possibilities. So, what we see here is their logical ending.