“Sick at heart.” Investigation of the murder of Mikhail Krug close to completion? 

“Sick at heart.” Investigation of the murder of Mikhail Krug close to completion?
One of the burglars, who had broken into the home of Krug, made a confession Photo: The CrimeRussia

The investigation of the murder of famous chansonnier Mikhail Krug killed 17 years ago enters final straight – the public should become aware of its perpetrators, causes, and circumstances soon. Some Ageev and Veselov – members of Tver Wolves gang – had been unofficially named the assassins a while ago – but the investigation had never confirmed this information. Nevertheless, the recent operational activities indicate that the years-long inquest should be finished soon.

Last week, a person suspected of the murder of chanson singer Mikhail Krug was escorted to the victim's home in Tver, and a crime re-enactment was performed. During the experiment, the operatives had blocked a section of the street where the house is located and secured the premises. Officers of nearly all law enforcement structures – SWAT, Federal Security Service (FSB), Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), and Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) – had worked on the scene. 

According to Olga Medvedeva, a sister of Mikhail Krug currently living in the home where the tragedy has occurred (172 Osvobozhdeniya street, Mamulino, Tver), she was asked to remove the unnecessary belongings and leave the house for the duration of the experiment. Medvedeva had watched it from a home next door:

Сестра Михаила Круга Ольга Медведева

Olga Medvedeva, sister of Mikhail Krug

“They brought him alone. There was a big company of investigators. They were walking. He was handcuffed; they were moving him there. A camera was recording everything. For half an hour, he was walking and showing something. We were not allowed there; I don’t know what he told them,” – Medvedeva says. 

She was unable to eye the supposed killer of her brother thoughtfully – but expressed confidence that she had never seen him before. 

It is also known that one more person serving a life term was escorted to the Tver region in the framework of this murder case. A large group of policemen equipped with gas chainsaws, lawn mowers, and metal detectors have combed the woods searching for the weapon.

Дом Михаила Круга

Home of Mikhail Krug

To refresh background: singer Mikhail Krug was killed overnight into July 1, 2002. That evening, Krug has attended the Town Day celebration with his family and was supposed to stay there later and watch the fireworks – but somehow, he returned home prematurely. In the meantime, unknown persons entered the third floor of his home between 23:00 and 0:15 and encountered the mother-in-law of Krug. The criminals started beating the woman; Krug and his wife Irina rushed to her screams. An altercation began; Mikhail suffered two severe gunshot wounds and lost consciousness. Irina ran to the neighbors, while the criminals fled the scene. Krug regained consciousness and managed to make it up to the home of his neighbor Viktor Rusakov. Rusakov drove him to the hospital – the ambulance had refused to come without the police. The police and ambulance arrived later and found the injured mother-in-law of Krug and his children in the home. Fortunately, the kids were not hurt: Irina’s daughter Marina and son Sasha (the toddler was only one month old) were sleeping and hadn’t awaked, while Dima, son of Krug from the first marriage, was sitting in the headphones. Despite all efforts of the medics, the chansonnier succumbed to his wounds on the morning of July 1.

Михаил с женой Ириной

Mikhail with wife Irina

The murder shocked everybody – Mikhail had no enemies; furthermore, nobody would dare to kill the singer respected in the criminal world. 

Numerous versions of the crime were suggested. For instance, producer Vadim Tsyganov supposed that this could be an attempted robbery. Shortly before his death, Krug recorded an album with the working title “Tverichanka” (Tver Girl) (later it was released under the name “Ispoved” (Confession)) and was supposed to receive the fee any day. Thief-in-law Aleksander Severov (Sasha Sever (Sasha North)), a friend and fellow countryman of the chansonnier, had initially supported this version. 

“As far as I know, they did not want to kill Misha, – he said in an interview. – Rumors circulated in Tver that Mikhail Krug has sold his new album for $200 thousand. Any criminal in Tver knows that my friends are untouchable. I will come with a grenade to avenge friends. That gang had entered Misha’s home for money – and he accidentally came their way”.

Михаил Круг и Саша Север (в центре)

Mikhail Krug and Sasha Sever (in the center)

But according to another version, Krug fell victim to a preplanned, or even contracted, assassination. 

All these versions seemed feasible – in that period, even a famous person could be killed for a pretty small amount of money. However, later it became known that the friendship between Krug and criminals, including crowned thieves, could play the fatal – although indirect – role in his death. 

Sasha Sever got acquainted with Mikhail Krug before his ascension to the national fame – at that time, the singer was popular only in his native Tver. Thief’s wife Galina has arranged their first meeting in the 1990s – in that period, Severov was serving a prison term. They quickly became friends. Later, Krug had repeatedly visited Sasha Sever – both in penal colonies and at home. Severov has even donated several his verses to the chansonnier – who, in turn, devoted to Sasha Sever his main hit: Vladimirsky Tsentral (Vladimir Central Prison). According to some information, initially, Severov was mentioned in the chorus – but then asked to remove his name from the song.

Михаил Круг навещает Северова в тюрьме

Mikhail Krug visits Sasha Sever in jail

The ‘patronage’ of the thief-in-law gave a boost to the artistic career of Krug – all doors were open to him, the criminal world had accepted him well, and his population was skyrocketing. However, during the incarceration of Sasha Sever, a new gang has emerged in the region; its members had defied both criminal ‘authorities’ and thieves’ code. Tver Wolves gang was created in the early 1990s by Aleksander Kostenko (Lom (Scrap-Iron)) and Anatoly Osipov (Volk (Wolf)/Cherep (Skull)/Shaman) – they had served terms in a penal colony together. The criminal group has quickly gained strength and seized control over such spheres as construction, timber processing, alcohol, gambling, prostitution, and gas stations.

Александр Костенко (Лом)

Aleksander Kostenko (Lom)  

Over time, Tver Wolves have extended their control to a section of the Moscow–St. Petersburg highway, thus, becoming famous outside the Tver region. Reportedly, Lom had ties with Sergei Timofeev (Silvester), leader of Orekhovskie gang; Vladimir Barsukov-Kumarin, leader of Tambovskie gang; and leaders of Solntsevskie organized criminal group. 

The most prominent members of Tver Wolves were Dmitry Baskakov, Dmitry Paukov, Aleksander Ageev (Strelok (Shooter)), and Aleksander Osipov (Mladshy Volk (Wolf Junior)), son of Anatoly Osipov; the latter two were recently escorted to Tver for the crime re-enactment. 

A characteristic feature of Tver Wolves was their unjustified cruelty. To intimidate local people, they had demonstratively unleashed carnage on their victims. For instance, a pimp trying to defraud them with ‘dues’ was killed right on the highway, in the plain view of numerous drivers. More than ten local businessmen and criminals from rival groups became their victims.

Анатолий Осипов (Волк)

Anatoly Osipov (Volk)

The activity of the gang had contravened the stance of Sasha Sever – who was interested in keeping his region calm. The tension was escalating. Krug had communicated with both criminal leaders – but he always considered the crowned thief his close friend and, by contrast, tried to avoid Lom for various reasons. Kostenko had posed as ‘mafioso № 1’ in the Tver region and offered ‘patronage’ (either friendship of cover-up) to Krug on a regular basis – but every time, Krug had delicately declined such offers. 

Ultimately, Lom decided to use a trick. According to Ageev, on June 30, 2002, Kostenko ordered him and Dmitry Vorobiev to rob the home of Krug and take some valuable antics. The gang leader expected Krug to address Sasha Sever for help first – but the thief won’t be able to assist the singer. Accordingly, Lom planned to return belonging to Krug after his request for help pretending that he had found those and punished the robbers – and thus, become the ‘patron’ of the chansonnier.

Александр Агеев

Aleksander Ageev

According to the third version, the murder of Krug was not an accident. As said above, Lom had tensions with thieves-in-law. In 2002, his henchmen gunned down Igor Zhiganov, overseer of Maksatikha village, and his associates. This caused a conflict between Tver Wolves and Sasha Sever – and Lom, being aware of the friendship between the crowned thief and Krug, could purposively escalate it. 

The criminal world became aware of the involvement of Tver Wolves in the murder of Krug a long time ago – but the investigation was progressing in a pretty weird manner. 

For instance, the criminal case against Aleksander Ageev was instituted back in November 2002 – although in relation to other crimes committed by him. In early 2003, Ageev was arrested for a number of contract killings. However, the operatives investigating the murder of Krug have approached Ageev only in January 2008. In February, some media outlets reported the arrest of supposed killers – but the MIA did not confirm this information. Irina Krug identified Ageev as one of the assailants who had broken into their home – but this hasn't affected the investigation in any way. According to the Investigations Committee of the Prosecutor General's Office, murder charges could not be solely based on visual recognition because the crime was committed a long time ago.

Агеев во время задержания

Ageev during the arrest

In addition, Ageev had an alibi. At some point, he had helped the female owner and Editor-in-Chief of a major Tver media outlet – ‘settled’ a situation with bandits threatening her son. In gratitude, the woman has officially hired him as a journalist, made her bodyguard, accommodated in her cottage, and stated that Ageev was at home at the time of the murder. Even after the confession of Ageev, the woman continued insisting that he has incriminated himself. 

In 2009, the Tver Region Court has sentenced three, out of the six, members of Tver Wolves – Osipov, Ageev, and Baskakov – to life in a maximum security penal colony. Two other gangsters were convicted to various prison terms, while the last one received a conditional sentence. The gang had ‘on the record’ at least 14 murders, including mass killings, armed assaults, extortion, illegal acquisitions of firearms, etc.

Прощание с Кругом

Public visitation of Mikhail Krug

Its leaders – Lom and Volk – were already dead by that time: they had made too many enemies. The body of Volk with gunshot wounds was found in 2005 in Yunots’ neighborhood of Tver. This murder was never solved. Kostenko was killed a year later. His car was ambushed when he was driving to a ‘business meeting’ accompanied by businessman Vladimir Gubenko (Guba (Lip)) and a bodyguard. Some unknown persons gunned down his SUV at an intersection of Tver–Rozhdestvenno–Lisitsky Bor highway. Guba died on the scene, the bodyguard was not harmed, while Lom received 20 gunshot wounds but was still alive. The bodyguard delivered him to a hospital where Kostenko died during the surgery. 

In 2012, the media reported the discovery of a skeleton supposedly belonging to the person who had killed Mikhail Krug ten years ago. A criminal serving a life term has provided the location of the remnants. However, the ICR confirmed only the discovery of a skeleton and refuted the rest of the information.

Могила Круга

Tomb of Mikhail Krug

In 2013, it was announced that singer’s widow Irina Krug has identified Veselov – whose remnants were found – as the killer of her husband from a photograph. 

On the same day, the ICR issued a refutation: publications based on information received from unreliable sources contradict the interests of the investigation. 

However, a year later, Aleksander Osipov told journalists that, back in 2003, he has shot dead Veselov – who had admitted the murder of the chansonnier.

Александр Осипов

Aleksander Osipov

Initially, Osipov junior wanted Veselov to provide compromising information against Kostenko (Veselov was a trusted aide of Lom) – either to blackmail him or turn him in to the FSB and rule the gang jointly with the father. According to Osipov, he has drawn his PM pistol, pointed at the chest of Veselov, and requested information about Kostenko. Veselov said that the only thing Lom is afraid of is revenge for the murder of Krug and confessed to killing the singer. According to Osipov, he had lost control at that moment because they were friends with Krug since his concert in Kimry in 1996.

Still, the investigators were skeptical about that confession – Osipov was sentenced to life in prison and, in anticipation of yet another trial for murder, could tell everything to postpone his convoying to the penal colony. It was more logical to assume that Veselov was killed to cover up the traces. 

The driver, who had brought the bandits to the home of Mikhail Krug and picked them up afterwards, is also dead. Initially, the dismembered body of his father was discovered; then the body of the driver was found, too. The circumstances of these deaths still remain unknown.

Памятник Кругу в Твери

Monument to Mikhail Krug in Tver

The inquest started moving forward only now – after some interesting statements made by Ageev.

In spring 2003, Sasha Sever became aware that members of the gang led by Lom were involved in the murder of Krug. He immediately sent a circular letter to penitentiary institutions explaining who is Ageev and what should be done with him. Ageev, who was serving a life term, faced a grave danger – and had no choice but to surrender himself under full control of the penal colony administration (i.e. become an agent of the Federal Penitentiary Service).

It must be noted that his ‘career’ was pretty successful – reportedly, Ageev killed two cellmates (and, according to other sources, crippled the third one). Currently, he is waiting for the trial for the murder of inmate Valery Zakharkin committed in the Maximum Security Penal Colony № 18 located in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District and nicknamed Snowy Owl. Jointly with his cellmate – nazi Aleksei Voevodin – he had performed ‘special tasks’ for the colony administration, including extraction of confessions and punishment of other inmates. Apparently, at some point, Ageev has taken it too far... 

Алексей Воеводин

Aleksei Voevodin

The story was as follows: Snowy Owl operative Igor Nesterenko got tired of continuous complaints of inmate Zakharkin about the incarceration conditions and decided to put him in the ‘pressure cell' – i.e. to Ageev and Voevodin. After 1.5 hours of cruel tortures, Zakharkin died. The colony administration had tried to present the incident as a conflict between cellmates – but complaints of other inmates exposed the truth. In addition, Ageev and Voevodin admitted that they had fulfilled orders of the colony administration. There are six more victims in this criminal case – the thugs had knocked their teeth out, broken ribs and limbs, etc. 

Ageev and Voevodin have been charged under Articles 105 and 117 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (murder and torture), while their supposed boss Igor Nesterenko – under Article 286 of the Criminal Code (exceeding official powers). On August 21, the panel of jurors should decide their fate. Therefore, it is now the best time for Ageev to share with the investigators whatever he knows – the bandit is going to spend the rest of his life behind bars, and his confinement conditions depend on the information he provides.

Круг.jpg

In addition to the crime re-enactment in Tver, Ageev had a face-to-face encounter with Osipov. Both of them were questioned by ICR officers and criminal investigation operatives. It is known that Osipov said that Ageev was involved in the murder of the singer – and Ageev confirmed this and made a sincere confession.


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