Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 221

Contract killings, of course, are not confined to Moscow, and incidents in other cities suggest that business throughout Russia remains highly criminalized. On November 28, Vladimir Zubov, head of the Pugachevsky district of Saratov Oblast, was wounded when a grenade that was fixed to the door of his home detonated (Interfax, November 28). The day before, police in Yekaterinburg found the body of the financial director of a company that provides security cameras and fire alarm equipment. The victim had been shot twice in the head (NTV.ru, November 28). On November 26, Leonid Bochkov, director of the Vostochny Port, located in the Far Eastern city of Nakhodka, was shot to death as he was leaving his office. Four men were detained in connection with the murder the next day. The Gazeta.ru website said the killing was likely connected to a battle for control over Vostochny, which is Russia’s main Pacific seaport (Gazeta.ru, November 27). On November 21, Sergei Brusnitsyn, the owner of four stores in St. Petersburg, was shot to death in his apartment. One report claimed Brusnitsyn was “well known in criminal circles by the alias Klyukva” and was close to Kirill Sadchikov, head of the Virilis firm, who was shot to death by masked men on November 15 while eating in a downtown St. Petersburg restaurant (Interfax, November 21; NTV.ru, November 15). On November 19, Valery Kilosoniya, general director of the West Siberian Trading Industrial Alliance, a company involved in motor fuel and lubricants sales, was found knifed to death in the entranceway to his apartment building in Omsk. Police said that it was most likely a contract killing, noting that an attempt had been made on Kilosoniya’s life three months earlier (RIA Novosti, November 19; Omskie Novosti, November 26). On November 18 the director of ATEX, a local television company in Novokuznetsk, was murdered and his bodyguard wounded in what police suspect was a contract killing (Gazeta.ru, November 19). On November 16, five people were killed and one wounded when a gunman tossed a grenade into a Tomsk cafe and then opened fire with an automatic weapon. Police said the incident was a “settling of accounts” between criminal groups and that the targets were mostly ethnic Azeri criminals from Omsk, Tomsk, Novosibirsk and Kemerova (Polit.ru, November 16). On November 7, Nikolai Tolstykh, director of the Krasnokamenskaya coalmine in the Kuzbass region, was shot to death. Police officials said that the murder was most likely connected to his professional activities, noting that “the coal mining industry of the region is tightly linked to the criminal world” (Gazeta.ru, November 8).

In addition to business and industry, politics in some Russian regions also remains highly criminalized. According to Aleksandr Drozdov, the deputy presidential envoy to the Far Eastern federal district, fifty of the 252 registered candidates running for seats in the Primorsky Krai Duma election, scheduled for December 9, are “connected to criminal structures” (Polit.ru, November 23). Anonymous local election officials were quoted as saying that such candidates are ready to use whatever means necessary to win seats in the regional Duma. Three aides to a candidate in the city of Ussuriisk were recently severely beaten by a group of men with baseball bats. The three victims, two men and a woman, were hospitalized after being beaten, and the candidate, Nikolai Golik, said he had received anonymous threats prior to the attack on his staffers (NTV.ru, November 27).

None of this is to say that the Russian police do not score successes in battling organized crime. Last month, police in the city of Tolyatti, home to AvtoVAZ, maker of the Lada car, arrested the “core” of the so-called Volga crime group. The group had allegedly carried out some twenty contract killings, including the murders of the head of the Tolyatti police’s criminal investigation unit, the head of the local Lada-TV television company, the head of the Tolyatti association of AvtoVAZ car dealers and other businessmen in the city (Vremya Novostei, November 23; see also the Monitor, August 10).