The ghost of banditry. Why is it still early to shut the door on the legendary Uralmash OCG and who is able to return the former force to the gang?
When Aleksandr Kukovyakin, the leader of the Uralmash OCG, was finally deported from the United Arab Emirates to Russia and put in jail, many felt that it was the end of the legendary criminal gang. As it turned out, they got excited too soon. Using various tricks, the former leader of the Uralmash members was released just two years later. Now Kukovyakin is riding high again, gaining strength and restoring his old influence. He founded a new business, revived the Billiard Sports Federation and holds competitions in which the sports minister of the Sverdlovsk Region comes out in his support. So, was the no less legendary investigator Milman right when he insisted that it is too early to say that the criminal community is defeated while its leaders are still at large?
Everyday life in Yekaterinburg is getting better, more fun. Despite the difficult economic situation, high-profile sports events still take place in the capital of the Urals. For example, from March 25 to March 31, for the first time, the Russian billiard sports championship in the “Free Pyramid” discipline took place in the Antey business center. A video report from the event on April 9 was published on the E-Sport - Yekaterinburg Sports Newsgroup on the VKontakte social network.
Leonid Rapoport, Minister of Physical Culture of Sports of the Sverdlovsk Region, spoke at the opening ceremony of the competition. In his welcoming speech, the Minister praised the man who revived the Sverdlovsk branch of the Russian Billiard Sports Federation. “I believe that the Federation, revived by Alexander Vasilyevich Kukovyakin, will return its glorious sporting traditions when the finals of the biggest competitions are held in Yekaterinburg,” Rapoport expressed sincere hope.
Leonid Rapoport, Minister of Physical Culture of Sports of the Sverdlovsk Region
Those to whom the name of the main character of the competition seemed vaguely familiar were not mistaken. Yes, it was the same Aleksandr Kukovyakin. One of the organizers and leaders of the legendary Uralmash OCG, one of the largest in the modern history of Russia. The former deputy of the State Duma of Yekaterinburg, who would receive congratulations from the Presidential Administration on his birthday. The defendant in a criminal case initiated in 2005 over the intentional bankruptcy of a hydrolysis plant in the city of Tavda, the Sverdlovsk Region. A criminal who was placed on the international wanted list in 2005, has been hiding from justice in the UAE for more than ten years. The first runaway Uralmash member, whom the Russian security forces managed to get only after concluding an extradition treaty. The man, whom in February 2016 the court found guilty of committing crimes under part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code (swindling on an unusually large scale) and Article 174.1 of the Criminal Code (money laundering).
Alexander Kukovyakin in court
When Kukovyakin was taken to Russia to be brought before the trial, he had the full attention of the media. It’s not surprising: it was the first time when a leader of a high-profile gang was facing the dock. Alexander Khabarov was supposed to be the first one, but he did not live to see the court – in 2005, he died under mysterious circumstances in the cell of Yekaterinburg’s pre-trial detention center No. 1. Is it any wonder that at the trial against Kukovyakin, who was considered Khabarov’s “right hand,” there was a full house.
Uralmash leaders Alexander Khabarov and Alexander Kukovyakin in the old days
The defendant met all the expectations of the audience. He delivered a profound speech in which he stated that he agreed with the accusation and was ready to compensate the damage entirely. He told that he had never even thought of hiding from the investigation, but he left for the UAE also before he learned of the initiation of the criminal case. He stated that he always considered and continues to find himself a true patriot of Russia. And finally, he promised to build a new plant in Tavda to replace the one who went bankrupt because of him.
The judge took into account both the sincere repentance of the defendant and the all mitigating circumstances, including the young children the latter had. Thus, he Imposed the most lenient punishment – 5 years of imprisonment in a general regime penal colony and a fine of 500,000 rubles ($7500). However, the defendant remained dissatisfied with the sentence. “It was unexpected to hear such harsh punishment from the prosecutor. You know, I wanted to have a small shop with closed blinds (the quote is given verbatim) so that no one would know about you – who you are, what you do and what you are going to do. But I'm different. Hopefully, if I have it (the shop), I will open the blinds there and will do a useful job, help people. Earlier, when I was present in Tavda, I brought world champions here to play with children. Congratulated the veterans, organized salutes, brought musicians, organized football tournaments. Your honor, I ask you not to invoke a punishment in the form of imprisonment to me. I am ready to work. Build, help people!” the gang leader said with enthusiasm. But these speeches did not affect.
As soon as Kukovyakin left the courtroom, the media ceased to be interested in his further fate. As it turns out, they shouldn’t have. It was then that real miracles began to happen. To start with, just two months after the sentencing, in April 2016, the board of the Sverdlovsk Regional Court softened the Uralmash leader’s punishment. The length of stay in the penal colony was magically reduced from five years to two, and the fine was reduced from 500 to 400,000 rubles ($6100). The most exciting thing was the reason why Kukovyakin’s term of punishment was reduced. Representatives of the Russian Themis listened to his lawyers’ requests and counted the time that Kukovyakin spent in the Arab prison. In 2008, he was detained in the UAE at the request of Russian security officials but then released under a commitment to show up. However, in the Emirates, the Uralmash soldier spent only three months behind bars, from October to December, and after that, for another seven years, until June 2015, he enjoyed complete freedom, but it was a small matter here. Three months in the UAE jail is at least a year in the Russian colony.
Committee for the Sverdlovsk Region Larisa Zakharova and Svetlana Melnikova, who visited Kukovyakin there said. Probably due to the excellent prison conditions, in September 2017, Kukovyakin wanted to give up the possibility of being released on parole “for personal reasons.” But then he changed his mind and filed a relevant petition. In February 2018, Ivdel’s City Court decided to release Kukovyakin, but the prosecutor appealed this decision. The Regional Court considered that the convicted person did not deserve parole.
The first attempt failed, and then in August 2018, Kukovyakin filed another petition in which he asked to reduce his sentence by the new law on “a day and a half.” According to it, one day in an isolation ward is equivalent to one and a half days in a general regime colony and two days in a settlement colony. In the period from June 2015 to April 2016, the former deputy, who was deported from the UAE, spent in the pre-trial detention facility in the Sverdlovsk Region. Therefore, on September 3, 2018, the City Court recounted the sentence by a factor of 1.5. Moreover, the judge also took into account the three months Kukovyakin spent in 2008 in the Arab prison. The 383 days spent by the Uralmash leader in isolation were counted as 574.5 days. In the end, it turned out that Kukovyakin had not just served his four-year term, but had even helped a few extra months.
Having the right to be released on September 28 last year, Kukovyakin returned to Yekaterinburg. Journalists discovered him when he dined with his son at the stylish Maccheroni restaurant. However, Kukovyakin refused to answer their questions, saying that he was not going to lead a public life. Judging by the billiards tournament recently held by the former deputy, he later revised his plans.
Kukovyakin on the tournament
Why did Kukovyakin once again decided to organize public events and earn bonuses in the form of support from the authorities? To figure this out, one needs to understand why the leader of the Uralmash gang at first calmly served a sentence imposed by the court, and then suddenly began to make desperate attempts to be released. To do this, one needs a little background.
After moving to the UAE after Khabarov’s arrest, the Urals resident was leading a secure and free life on the Arab soil. He settled in the fashionable Dubai Marina district, where he acquired several properties. He invested capital brought from Russia in several Arab hotels, including the Khalidia Palace in Sharjah and Lou Lou Beach in Abu Dhabi. He participated in tennis tournaments along with the Urals politicians and people in business arriving in the UAE. Out of boredom, he even opened a small business for the production of Japanese mochi sweets by investing in Edo Cafe in Dubai.
Kukovyakin knew that he could be deported at any time, so he took care that the family had enough money to survive the difficult times. However, his wife Oksana of the model of appearance was not ready to make independent and informed decisions in the absence of her husband.
Kukovyakin with the wife
For some unknown reason, in 2016, while Kukovyakin was held in the colony, Oksana Kukovyakina gave about $500.000 to a businessman, with whose wife she was on friendly terms. Perhaps, being worried that the money would not suffice for the four years that her spouse was supposed to spend behind the barbed wire, and hoping to increase the capital, returning the loan with interest. However, the businessman turned out to be a swindler, who played the same trick with many local people in the business. The police arrested him, initiating several criminal cases at once. The hope to return thousands of dollars evaporated, Oksana and two children were left in a foreign land without means of livelihood – according to the measures customary for their family, of course.
Because of the unreasonable actions of his wife, Kukovyakin also had to cut costs and refuse one of his lawyers, Oleg Kosmarev. The decision was made “due to the changed material situation of the prisoner's family.” Since then, Yelizaveta Kolobova was the only lawyer representing his interests.
To save money, Oksana Kukovyakina stopped visiting her spouse in the correctional colony in Ivdel. “He took Oksana out of nowhere and turned her into a queen. But queens love to live in the Emirates, and not in Ivdels or Yekaterinburg. When he was deported, Oksana remained in the Emirates and complained about adversity. Only later, after losing a lot of money, she came. At first, she visited him in the colony, and now she has ceased to and has forgotten him completely, but in Yekaterinburg, one can see her mostly at parties,” one of Kukovyakin’s friends said. And the second opinion is even tougher: “She never came to visit him, even when she lived in Yekaterinburg. Alexander Vasilyevich experiences wild resentment about this; he cannot calmly hear about her.”
But the children of the Uralmash leader did not let him down. When Oksana Kukovyakina lost all her money by her stupidity, the eldest son of the Kukovyakins, Konstantin, took care of the family.
According to the information on Konstantin Kukovyakin’s page on Facebook, in 2015 he started studying at the Middlesex University in Dubai, but after two years, in 2017, he had to drop out. Probably for the same reason that his father refused one of the lawyers. The expensive yachts, high-mountain resorts, and high-profile parties, photos from which previously filled the entire feed of the heir’s page, was long forgotten.
But Kukovyakin Jr. turned out to be a capable businessman, although he had to become a lawyer, specialized at the university in international law. As soon as the family lost its fortune, Konstantin founded the Bazzar.ae company. This online platform specializes in the sale of luxury gadgets – smartphones, cameras, home, and office equipment. The Kukovyakins’ friends stated, not without surprise, that “the boy manages to take care of the family.”
Then, the gifted young man launched another project called i-Auto.ae – a platform for the sale of premium cars, Rolls-Royce, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, top models of Mercedes, BMW, Audi. Later, fashionable accessories and gadgets were also sold on this site.
And when there was a hope that his father would soon be released, Konstantin Kukovyakin moved to Russia and in February 2018 founded Shortline Group LLC. This company specializes in the manufacture of furniture and offers designer options for the elite. “Our goal is to collect the best from all points of the world in one place for you,” “Our concept is to create and represent the exclusive, to translate any interior design trends into reality so that everyone who values individuality has the opportunity to express themselves.” This is how Kukovyakin’s company positioned itself. It is difficult to judge how profitable the new business in Russia was – there is still no reporting data.
Kukovyakin Jr. sells furniture
When Kukovyakin Sr. was released, re-starting a business at the age of 58 was not easy for him. The son hurried to help. On November 12, 2018, two months after leaving the colony, the former deputy established Ayavtopro LLC and took the post of CEO of the company engaged in the sale of vehicles. The name of the company intersects with one of his businesses, i-Auto.ae.
The former leader of Uralmash does not intend to trade cars for the rest of his life. Therefore, he began to build connections that will help to return the former influence and scale. Otherwise, why should he spend time and money on organizing billiards tournaments?
By the way, when the video recording of the competitions with Kukovyakin and Rapoport's participation transpired on the Internet, the Sverdlovsk Ministry of Physical Culture and Sport was asked to explain why they support the former leader of the Uralmash gang. The officials said they did not support Kukovyakin, the criminal, but the Billiard Sports Federation, which he heads. This Federation is allocated funds from the budget for holding sporting events, and the budget money partly pays for travel of the regional team to the international and national championships. When asked if officials were concerned that the former criminal was engaged in raising young Ural athletes, the Ministry said that Kukovyakin does not train the players: “The main focus of his work is to provide quality conditions for developing the sports and organization of interaction with local governments and other organizations.” And to finally convince the public that the Ministry supports not Kukovyakin himself but the sports, the Ministry of Sports said they could not influence Kukovyakin’s election as chairman of the Federation’s Board since they could not interfere in the activities of public organizations. I.e., you have to work with who you have.
Many former officials of Yekaterinburg and the Sverdlovsk Region said the same things, explaining why they were forced to put up with the Uralmash OCG and cooperate with the criminals. In due time, the ex-governor of the Region, Eduard Rossel, handed the premium watch to Khabarov. Maybe history repeats itself, and the new generation of Ural officials is also ready to “put up and cooperate?”
Uralmash leaders Alexander Khabarov and Alexander Kukovyakin
And another topic to think about. Once, the investigator of the legendary and now deceased especially important case, Mikhail Milman, was asked whether the Uralmash OCG ceased to exist? To which the initiator of the most high-profile cases against the gang answered with another question: “Do you believe that if the leaders of the criminal group are still free, the gang is defeated?”
There is a suspicion that in the Urals many people guess, and some of them know for sure that it is too early to bury the Uralmash OCG. Especially now, when Kukovyakin, the most trusted person of Khabarov, is free again.
It was not for nothing that last August, a month before the former leader of the Uralmash left the colony, the son of Viktor Lachimov, the head of the Tavda City Hall, threatened his offender with a massacre from the Uralmash OCG gangsters. On the fences of the Ural city, which Kukovyakin once fully controlled, insulting inscriptions, addressed to the mayor, appeared – “Lachimov is a thief.” The police suspect that their author is a resident by the name of Borisov. It was he who appealed to the prosecutor for help, writing in a statement that Lachimov’s son came to him and threatened with the Uralmash gangster who would come to works things out and leave him disabled. It seems that the ghost of banditry is wandering around the Sverdlovsk Region again.