TOP-10 most influential and brutal OCGs of 90's 

TOP-10 most influential and brutal OCGs of 90's
During the turbulent 90s, Russia experienced an unprecedented increase in crime Photo: CrimeRussia

Times have their own names. The 90-s of the 20th century in Russia are called "turbulent" - because of the unprecedented orgy of crime after the Soviet Union collapse. Criminal gangs controlled whole cities, and the most diverse spheres of activity, and their showdowns turned into full-scale wars with dozens of victims. The CrimeRussia tells the story of the 10 most powerful and violent criminal groups of the post-Soviet era.

Volgovskaya OCG

Volgovskaya criminal group was created by two natives of the city of Togliatti, the staff of the hotel Volga: Alexander Maslov and Vladimir Karapetyan. The main activities of the gang were related to the sale of stolen parts from the local car factory VAZ.

Gradually its influence and revenue grew: in the heyday of the gang, when half of car shipping companies and dozens of dealers were under the control of the group, Volgovskaya earned over $ 400 million a year.

In 1992, shortly after his release, the leader of the gang Alexander Maslov was shot dead. The murder of the criminal leader took place during the war between the Volgovskaya and Vladimir Vdovin’s (Naparnik – Team-mate) gang. After Maslov’s death, the OCG was headed by his closest associate Dmitry Ruzlyaev (Dima Bolshoy – Dime the Big), in connection with which the gang was started to be called Ruzlyayevskaya. Soon, it formed an alliance with local criminal groups - Kupeyevskaya, Mokrovskaya, Sirotenkovskaya, and Chechenskaya.


Dmitry Ruzlyayev

As it turned out during the arrest of Dima Bolshoy in 1997, he was closely associated with some powerful security officials, which to some extent confirmed rumors that Volgovskaya was supported by the local police in order to create a counterweight to Naparnik’s OCG.

On April 24, 1998, Dmitry Ruzlyaev together with a driver and two bodyguards was shot from four machine guns in his own car. Dima Bolshoy was buried on the famous Avenue of Heroes in Togliatti together with other local mobsters.

By the early 2000s, the criminal group was virtually eliminated – and most of the leaders or killers of the gang of were either killed, or sentenced to long terms. The last leader of Volgovskaya, Victor Pchelin, was caught in 2007 after 10 years of being on the run.   

Могила Рузляева

Ruzlyayev’s grave

In March 2016, it was reported that one of the previously caught active members of the gang – Vladimir Vorobey – was found dead in a hospital of the penal colony №9 with signs of suicide. Vorobey, who was on the wanted list since 1997, was arrested only in January 2016 in St. Petersburg, where he lived under the name of Vadim Gusev. 

Slonovskaya OCG

Often times, partners of Volgovskaya in their struggle for influence were the members of the Slonovskaya OCG. The group originated in Ryazan in 1991; its leaders were the former driver of the Ryazan Deputy City Prosecutor Nikolay Maximov (Max) and the taxi driver Vyacheslav Yermolov (Slon), thanks to whom the gang got its name. The first capital the criminals made by providing criminal protection to local thimble-riggers.   

Вячеслав Ермолов

Vyacheslav Yermolov

Soon the gang has mastered the broader business activities: fraud in the sale of vehicles and racketeering, after which the elephants have switched to seizing enterprises. In a short time under the control of organized crime groups were virtually the entire city.

However, in 1993 the Slonovskiye had a conflict with another gang operating in the city – Ayrapetovskaya (named after its leader - Viktor Ayrapetov a.k.a. Vitya Ryazansky). During the clashes between the heads of factions – Yermolov and Ayrapetov – there was a fight, during which Slon was severely beaten. This marked the beginning of large-scale gang war. In response, the Slonovskiye sprayed the club of the Ryazselmash plant with bullets, where the members of Ayapetovskaya were having rest. Victor Ryazansky had a narrow escaped: he managed to hide behind a pillar. Soon, Airapetov took his turn to act; Max was shot on the entrance of his residential building. The Slonovskiye got Ryazansky only in 1995. He was kidnapped in front of his own security, his body was found a month later in a forest near the highway.


The Slonovkskaya OCG

Already in 1996, the Slonovskaya OCG has been virtually eliminated. The most influential members of the gang were convicted in 2000, received various terms of imprisonment (maximum – 15 years). At that, the gang leader, Vyacheslav Yermolov, has managed to escape. According to some reports, he now lives in Europe.

Schelkovskaya OCG

The Shchelkovskaya OCG was based in the suburban Moscow district named Shchelkovo since the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. The structure of the OCG included the local residents of the village Biokombinat. The Shchelkovskaya gained fame for a series of murders committed. According to investigators, there are at least 60 deaths of businessmen, gangsters and their own associates on their account.


Alexander Matusov

The founder of the gang was a criminal authority Alexander Matusov, known by the nickname Basmach. Before creating his own gang, he was a member of the Izmailovskaya OCG. Basmach created the gang that kept the whole village at bay – from the police to the officials. The Shchelkovskaya was notorious in the criminal world for its cruelty. Basmach’s people preferred not to negotiate, but simply to eliminate their competitors. Soon, the OCG began to work at the request of customers throughout Russia, killing or kidnapping people, whom they would brutally torture, demanding to pay the money. As the investigation pointed out, the majority of victims (regardless of whether the ransom for them was paid or not) have been killed and buried on the territory of the Shchelkovo district.

The gang’s crimson crimes became known to law enforcement agencies only in the course of the investigation of the Kingiseppskaya criminal group which was friendly to them.

In 2009, a criminal case was initiated against the members of the Shchelkovskaya OCG, and the runaway gang leader Basmach was placed on the federal wanted list. However, in 2014, he was arrested in Thailand and extradited to Russia. Now, a jury is being formed to judge him.

Malyshevskaya OCG

The Malyshevskaya OCG is one of the most influential gangs of St. Petersburg, operaring since the late 1980s to mid-1990s. Its organizer is the former wrestler Alexander Malyshev. He started his criminal career, working as a thimble-rigger under protection of the Tambovskaya criminal group. However, in the late 80s, Malyshev managed to gather a gang under his command. In 1989, the first clash between Tambovskaya and Malyshevskaya with a firearm took place, after which the gangs became enemies.

Геннадий Петров, Александр Малышев

Gennady Petrov and Alexander Malyshev

After the skirmish with the Tambovskaya gang, Malyshev and another influential member of the gang – Gennady Petrov - were arrested on suspicion of banditry, but were released soon. Immediately after the release, the mobsters were quick escape abroad: Malyshev escaped to Sweden, and Petrov – to Spain.

After the criminal proceedings were ceased, the OCG leaders returned to St. Petersburg, where they continued their activities. The influence of the Malyshevskaya gang grew until the mid-90s, before they were pressed by the more powerful hang - the Tambovskaya. After the murder of majority of the gang members by the rivals, Malyshev and Petrov fled abroad again. However, the enterprising mobsters did not give up and continued to develop their criminal network already in Europe. Malyshev received Estonian citizenship, then lived in Germany, and then moved to Spain, where after a while he Petrov moved as well. 

As the Spanish police established later, the Malyshevskaya actively began to create a complex system of laundering illegally-gotten money invested in real estate. Subsequently, Petrov will become one of the main defendants in the sensational case of the Russian mafia in Spain, in which, apart from him, a number of prominent businessmen and politicians of the Russian Federation were mentioned. In 2008, a mass arrest of the Russian mafia took place: more than 20 members of the gang were detained. At that, the investigation was conducted in a strange ways: Petrov was soon released to his native St. Petersburg, under the pretext of restoring health. For some reason, he did not dare to go back to Spain.

Whereas Malyshev has done his time in a Spanish prison until 2015, and then also returned to St. Petersburg. According to him, he retired and decided to live a quiet life, unrelated to the crime world. 

Tambovskaya OCG

This organized criminal group was considered to be one of the most powerful gangs operating in St. Petersburg in the 90's - early 2000's. The Tambovskaya OCG is named after the hometown of its leaders: Vladimir Barsukov (until 1996 - Kumarin) and Valery Ledovskikh are the natives of the Tambov Region. Having met each other in St. Petersburg, they decided to form a band, where they recruited their countrymen and former athletes. Like many organized crime groups, The Tambovskaya gang began protecting the thimble-riggers, and then switched to a racket. 


Vladimir Barsukov (Kumarin)

In 1990, Kumarin, Ledovskikh, and many members of their gang were sentenced for extortion. After the release, the gang went back to criminal activity. The gang started growing rapidly and forging links with politicians and businessmen.

In 1993, the gang began to take part in bloody showdowns. According to some reports, the gang often attracted natives from Chechnya for the solution of their problems.

The members of the Tambovskaya OCG were operating in various fields: from timber export and import of office equipment to gambling and prostitution. Since the mid-1990s, they began to launder the illegally earned capital, turning criminal activity down. They created a number of private security companies, monopolized the whole fuel and energy business in St. Petersburg. By that time, Barsukov got a nickname of the night-Governor of St. Petersburg, that is how powerful he was.

Галина Старовойтова

Galina Starovoitova

However, in the 2000s the gang started having difficulties followed by a series of high-profile arrests. Barsukov was sentenced to 23 years in a colony for attempted murder of the businessman Sergei Vasiliev. In the future, Vladimir Barsukov faces another two criminal proceedings: for the murder of State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova, where the organizer of the crime, the Deputy Mikhail Glushchenko, named him the customer, and the organization of the murder of two colleagues Grigory Pozdnyakov and Jan Gurevsky in 2000. 

Izmailovskaya OCG

The OCG was formed in Moscow in the mid-1980s. It grew up from youth gangs of the capital, who were historically opposed to those from Lubertsy. The authority Oleg Ivanov, who moved to Moscow from Kazan, became its leader. Later, the management included such people as Victor Nestruyev (Malchik - Boy), Anton Malevsky (Anton Izmailovsky), Sergey Trofimov (Trofim), Alexander Afanasyev (Afonya) and the thief in law Sergey Aksenov (Axen).

The gang consisted of about 200 people (according to other sources from 300 to 500). At that, Izmailovskaya united under its wing a few other groups, such as Golyanovskaya and Perovskaya. Therefore, the OCG is often called Izmailovsko-golyanovskaya. It acted in the East, South-East, North-East and Central Administrative Districts, as well as in Lyubertsy and Balashikha District of the Moscow Region.

This gang feuded with the Chechen criminal groups. Initially, Izmaylovskaya were involved, as well as many like them, in robberies and protection racket of small businesses. Subsequently, with the help of the former security officers who joined the OCG, it established private security firms, under cover of which the gang could legitimately acquire firearms and, in general, legalize its activities. In addition, the connection with the law enforcement agencies made it possible to receive insider information and to avoid punishment for bribes.

Антон Малевский Валерий Длугач

Anton Malevsky and Valery Dlugach

One of the active members of the gang – Anton Malevsky – in the Moscow underworld, was considered to be the most "bespredelschik" (an off-limit) who does not recognize any authorities. According to some operational data, it was he who was guilty of the murder of the kingpin Valery Dlugach (Globus) and his associate Vyacheslav Banner (Bobona).

The money obtained by criminal means, the OCG laundered through casinos and high-ranking officials, who helped the criminals to carry out cash transactions over a certain percentage. In addition, the finance were siphoned abroad, where it was invested in real estate. Also, the gang established a number of enterprises for the production of jewelry from precious metals and stones. In addition, the mobsters participated actively in the commercial wars for the ownership of the largest Russian metallurgical enterprises.

In the mid-90s, the competitors from one side and the law enforcement agencies from the other began to destroy the gang. In 1994, during a police pursuit, Alexander Afanasyev (Afonya) was seriously injured. The following year, during the murder attempt, the gang treasurer Liu Zhi Kai (Misha Kitayets - Chinese) and Fedor Karashov (Grek) were killed. Just one month later, during the showdown, two members of the gang were killed. In addition, the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department officers detained Victor Nestruyev (Malchik) and Sergey Korolev (Marikelo). Anton Malevsky (Anton Izmailovsky) first emigrated to Israel, and in 2001, died in South Africa during a parachute jump. Konstantin Maslov (Maslik), another former gang member, who was accused of killing a Chechen businessman, was finally convicted in 2012. 


The OCG appeared in the city of Sverdlovsk (now – Ekaterinburg) in 1989. Initially, the working area of the group was the Ordzhonikidze District of the city, in which the giant factory Uralmash was located. It is assumed that the brothers Grigory and Konstantin Tsyganov are the founders of the gang. Their inner circle included Sergey Terentiev, Alexander Khabarov, Sergey Kurdyumov (foreman of Uralmash killers), Sergey Vorobiev, Alexander Kruk, Andrey and Igor Panpurin Mayevsky.

At the best of times, the OCG included about 15 gangs about 500 people strong. In the first half of the 90-s, Uralmash were reputed as the followers of brutal strong-arm methods (up to the contract murders, which later reached 30).

Цыган и Хабаров

Konstantin Tsyganov and Alexander Khabarov

Very soon, Uralmash came into confrontation with the other gang – Tsentroviye. The result was the murder of Grigory Tsyganov in 1991 (his place was taken by his younger brother Constantin). In response, in 1992, the leader of the Tsentroviye Oleg Vagin was eliminated. He, along with three bodyguards, was shot with machine guns in the city center. In 1993 – early 1994, several leaders and authorities of the rival gang were killed as well (N. Shirokov, M. Kuchin, O. Dolgushin et al.).

Later, Uralmash has become the most powerful criminal gang in Yekaterinburg. It was headed by Alexander Khabarov. In the second half of the 90-s, the gang is gaining a notorious reputation and power and begins to influence the political life of the Region. For example, in 1995, Uralmash helped Eduard Rossel during the gubernatorial election. A year later, during the presidential election, Alexander Khabarov organized the "Labor movement in support of Boris Yeltsin." In 1999, he formally registers the OPS Uralmash (stands for socio-political union). In November 2000, with the direct support of the OPS and Khabarov, the head of Krasnoufimsk is elected. In 2001, Alexander Kukovyakin becomes the Yekaterinburg City Duma deputy, and in 2002 Khabarov does the same. All this helped the gang to gain control over the criminal sector of the economy and to create a network of businesses (150 to 600), gradually legalizing their activities. 


Alexander Khabarov

In December 2004, Alexander Khabarov was arrested on charges of Coercion to colcude an agreement or refusal of its fulfillment (Art. 179 of the Criminal Code). A year later, the leader of Uralmash was found hanged in prison. Since then, the gang members greatly lost their influence; the active members for the most part became businessmen or fled abroad. One of the leaders – Alexander Kruk – was found dead in 2000 in the country house in the suburbs of Sofia (Bulgaria) which belonged to another gang member, Andrey Panpurin. Alexander Kukovyakin in 2015 was extradited to Russia from the United Arab Emirates and brought to trial on charges of misconduct in bankruptcy and non-payment of salaries. 

Podolskaya OCG

One of the most powerful Russian organized crime groups of the 90-s was a gang called the Podolskaya. Its founder and the permanent leader is an entrepreneur from Podolsk, an honorary citizen of this city, Sergey Lalakin nicknamed Luchok (Onion). Lalakin has not been even tried, but it was reported that he participated in hooligan brawls twice. However, the cases did not reach the courts. After graduating from a vocational college, Lalakin served in the army, and after the deferral in the late 1980s, stood on a criminal path. According to open sources, he, along with his friends, was engaged in racketeering, thimble-rigging and exchange fraud. But it was the thin end of the wedge, which, in the future, made Lalakin a criminal ace, who was able to bribe the whole investigation department.

Сергей Лалакин

Sergey Lalakin

The history of the Podolskaya gang had a lot of internal "warfare" because of the struggle for power, but Luchok was the one who survived. All claimants upon the role of OCG head eventually stepped aside. Under Luchok’s guidance, the gang took control, in addition to Podolsk, the Chekhov and the Serpukhov Districts of the Moscow Region and most ​​commercial organizations in this area, including banks, oil companies and even the production company. By the mid-1990-s, the OCG has become one of the most organized and wealthy criminal groups in Moscow and Moscow Region. According to some claims, Luchok at a certain stage has surpassed Sylvester and his opinion was taken into account by many of the major figures, such as the kingpin Yaponshik and Otar Kvantrishvili.

Up until the mid-90-s, the Podolskaya gang was fighting for their place under the sun in crimson showdowns. During the shootouts, a few dozen leaders of the OCG leaders were killed, among them - Sergey Fedyaev nicknamed Pshyco, the authorities Alexander Romanov, also known as Roman and Nikolay Sobolev nicknamed Sobol, the head of the Sherbinskaya brigade (Podolskaya’s subdivision) Valentin Rebrov, the authority Vladimir Gubkin, Gennady Zvezdin (Pushka – Cannon), the Volgograd authority Mikhail Sologubov (Sologub) and many others. It is noteworthy that those who witnessed some of these crimes pointed to Lalakina, but in none of these cases he was not a defendant. However, on October 10, 1995, Lalakin was detained by the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office of Russia; he was charged with fraud. Nevertheless, after some time, the case has come to naught as well.  

Сергей Лалакин

By the mid-1990-s, the crime situation in Podolsk and the surrounding area has stabilized. It was a time of reincarnations, when the mobsters had to get out of the outdated track suits and to dress in something more presentable. Then, Luchok first announced himself as a successful entrepreneur: it became known that he entered into a number of board of directors and became shadow founder of the firms Soyuzkontrakt and Anis, controlled the Central International Tourist Complex, the company Orkado and Metropol. To date, according to the data from Kartoteka, Sergey Lalakin, his son Maxim, as well as their companions are the owners of a number of different companies that cover almost the entire spectrum of the market – from food and cafes to petroleum, construction and stock transactions.

Solntsevskaya OCG

The Solntsevskaya criminal gang originated in the late 1980s. The name of one of the largest organized crime groups operating on the territory of the CIS is comes from the municipal district Solntsevo. This is where the individuals with a criminal past, such as Sergey Mikhailov (Mikhas), Khachidze Jemal (thieves' curator of the gang), Alexander Fedulov (Fedul), Aram Atayan (Baron), Viktor Averin (Avera Sr.), his younger brother Alexander Averin (Sasha Avera aka Avera Jr.) joined forces. Gradually, the members of organized crime group have occupied the entire south-west of the capital. Under their control there were other smaller criminal organizations - the Yasenevskaya, the Chertanovskaya, the Cheryomushki. 


Sergey Mikhailov

From primitive racket, the gang has moved into the sphere of economics, based on the model of American mafia clans. In general, the Solntsevskaya gang was engaged in smuggling, transit of drugs (for this, they have established connections in America), the organization of prostitution, kidnapping and murder, extortion and arms sales. Among the economic machinations of the gang there are such things as: fake transactions, which gang concluded with contractors of the Russian Railways using the friendly banks Russian Credit, Transportny, Zapadny, Most-bank, Antalbank, Russky Zemelny Bank Taurus, Evropeysky express, Rublevsky, Interkapitalbank (licenses currently are revoked - Ed.) and so forth.

The money of the Solntsevskaya OCG was invested in real estate, large enterprises, banks, hotels – a total of about 30 institutions. Among the legal entities then controlled by the OCG there were such hotels as Radisson-Slavyanskaya, Kosmos, Tsentralny Dom Turista (Central Tourist House), strip malls and tents, Solntsevsky automarket, all flea markets of the Moscow’s south-west, including Luzhniki, Danilovsky, Kievsky and etc.

The leader of the gang Mikhas is now actively engaged in business and charity. He was among the first who used the so-called right to be forgotten, trying to hide his criminal past. 

Orekhovskaya OCG

One of the most influential (if not the most influential) criminal gang of the 90-s originated in 1986 in the south of Moscow. It consisted of young people of 18-25 years old, interested in sports and living in the area Orekhovo-Borisovo. The founder of the band was the legendary Sergei Timofeev nicknamed Sylvester for the love of bodybuilding and physical resemblance with the famous actor.


Sergey Timofeev (Sylvester is going on for martial arts, 1979-1980)

Sylvester began рis criminal career like many others at that time with the protection racket, thimble-riggering and extortion. Gradually, Timofeev united under his leadership a number of different groups, including such large gangs as the Medvedkovskaya and the Kurganskaya (a member of which was the famous killer Alexander Solonik), and his commercial interests began to cover the most profitable areas. In the heyday, the OCG controlled about thirty banks in the Central Region, as well as managed multimillion-dollar business: diamonds and gold trade, real estate, oil. Hard methods of the Orekhovskaya left their mark: on September 13, 1994, Sylvester’s car Mercedes-Benz 600SEC was blown up by a remote device.

After the death of such a strong leader, a crimson fight for his place emerged. As a result, in 1997, with the support of two other influential members of the gang, the Pylevs brothers, the leadership was taken by one of the OCG team leaders Sergey Butorin (Osya). On his orders, the notorious killer Alexander Solonik who was on a vacation at his villa in Greece was killed. The contractor was the no less legendary killer Alexander Pustovalov (Sasha-Soldat – Soldier). He, like other famous killer of the 90-s - Alexey Sherstobitov (Lesha-Soldat), was a member of Orekhovskaya OCG. 


Alexey Sherstobitov

Alexander Pustovalov was born in a poor family in Moscow. After serving in the marines, he tried to get into the police Special Forces, but was rejected because of the lack of higher education. After the fight in the bar, he was enrolled in the gang. The trial of Sasha-Soldat proved his involvement in 18 murders, although, according to the investigation, there were at least 35. The killer’s victims were Alexander Bidzhamo (the father of George Bedzhamov and Larisa Marcus, the founders of Vneshprombank), the leader of the Greek group Kyulbyakov, the lawyer of the Kurganskaya OCG Baranov, the head of the Koptevskaya OCG Alexander Naumov, and Solonik. Sasha-Soldat was caught in 1999. The investigation of his case has lasted for 5 years. At trial, the killer admitted his guilt and repented. The sentence was 23 years in prison. However, over time, new details of Pustovalova’s activities emerge: in summer 2016, his involvement in another six killings was discovered.

Alexey Sherstobitov is a hereditary military; during his studying, he detained a dangerous criminal, for which he was decorated with an order. On his account, there are 12 proven murders and murder attempts. Sherstobitov got to the gang after meeting the influential members of the Orekhovskaya OCG: Grigory Gusyatinsky (Grinya) and Sergey Ananiev (Kultik). At the hands of Lesha-Soldat, a businessman Otar Kvantrishvili well known in criminal circles, Grigory Gusyatinsky (who accepted Sherstobitov to the gang), and the owner of the club Dolls Iosif Glotser were killed. According to the killer, he was even holding the oligarch Boris Berezovsky at gunpoint, but at the last moment the order was canceled by phone.

For a long time, investigators did not believe in the existence of Lesha-Soldat, considering him as a kind of collective image of an entire gang of murderers. Sherstobitov was very careful: he never communicated with the ordinary members of the gang, never left fingerprints. Going out in the country, the killer skillfully disguised. As a result, the Soldier was caught only in 2005, when came to the Botkin Hospital to visit his father. Prior to this, a separate group of investigators worked on his case for several years.

On several counts, the killer, who pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the investigators, received 23 years in prison. In prison, Lesha-Soldat writes autobiographical books.

Белкин и Пронин

Dmitry Belkin and Oleg Pronin

The collapse of Orekhovskaya OCG began with a murder of the investigator Yuri Kerez, the first in Russia to initiate proceedings under Article 210 of the Criminal Code (organization of a criminal community). Kerez was the first security official, who came out on the trail of this gang. According to some reports, the leader of Orekhovskaya Dmitry Belkin tried to cover up the case by offering a bribe of $ 1 million, but the investigator refused. Thus, he signed his own death warrant. The employees of the MIA did not forgive the murder of their colleague and threw all their forces in the fight against OCG.

Сергей Буторин

Sergei Butorin

Over the next 13 years, the law enforcement bodies of Russia and other countries have almost managed to behead Orekhovskaya OCG. Alexander Pustovalov, Sergei Butorin Andrey and Oleg Pylevs and others were arrested. Dmitry Belkin was the last major authority of the gang, who remained at large and was placed on the international wanted list for more than 10 years ago. In October 2014, Belkin and the killer Oleg Pronin, known as Al Capone, were found guilty of murder and murder attempts. Belkin was sentenced to life imprisonment in a penal colony of special regime. Oleg Pronin was sentenced to 24 years in a strict regime colony. Previously, for participating in a gang and committing particularly serious crimes, Oleg Pronin has been sentenced to imprisonment for 17 years. In addition, Orekhovskaya OCG is standing behind the repeated attempts on the Odintsovo Municipal Assembly Deputy Sergey Zhurba.



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