Russian mafia in Spain

On May 3, 2016, the National Court of Spain put out an international arrest warrant fifteen people, suspected in connections with the criminal grouping headed by crime lord Gennady Petrov. They were accused of participation in criminal community and money laundering. What did the people, supposedly connected with Russian authoritative higher-ups, do in Spain in 1990-s and what is happening now?

After the Soviet Union fell apart it became much easier to travel abroad – it was no longer necessary to collect certificates from different authorities or employment references; request exit permit; and bribe the district committee members. It became possible to possess private property and conduct business, as well as carry out different machinations with both.

According to the prosecution, this was exactly what the criminal grouping headed by Gennady Petrov was doing in Spain. In 1990-s members of the gang created a network of companies in the country, on which they registered property, after what the companies were sold several times through false firms for larger amount of money. Such machinations were conducted in Barcelona, Malaga, Alicante and Majorca. The money, laundered this way, was transferred to offshore jurisdictions of Liechtenstein and Panama. In total, with this scheme the criminals laundered money, received from Russia from speculations with VAT (valid added tax) compensation and illegal bank operations, at a value of 20 millions euros.

Spanish police detaining Gennady Petrov
Spanish police detaining Gennady Petrov
At the same time, the Petrov’s grouping influenced the distribution of power and resources in Russia. The court obtained this data after installation of wiretapping in the defendants’ telephones in 2006. 

It is thought that the scheme was created by the crime lord, who is connected with Tambovskiye and Malyshevskiye OCG (organized criminal grouping), Gennady Petrov. The investigation believes that he was closely connected with such figures as former spokesman of the State Duma Boris Gryzlov, former Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov and some other important politicians. The fact that in 1998-1999 Petrov was a co-owner of Rossiya (Russia) bank only confirms the theory that Petrov is connected with upper authoritative circles. Another interesting fact is that in 90-s the “imperator of lawless St. Petersburg” was detained over accusation of extortion and creation of criminal community but soon after he was released. According to member of Japanese yakuza and businessman Kinichi Kamiyasu, to whose words Novaya Gazeta made reference, Petrov and Aleksander Malyshev, the founder of Malishev’s OCG, controlled municipal casino Neva-Shans, established by St. Petersburg mayoralty.  Money from the casino should have been allocated to “the poor”, but as the casino was working with black cash, true aims of the project remained controversial.

Criminal past of Petrov’s companion Aleksander Malyshev was also connected with St. Petersburg. Convicted for two murders, he was the shell-game player at the Senny market, where he was working under protection of grouping of Vladimir Kumarin – future head of Tambovskiye OCG, against which an investigation was initiated in Russia over speculations and murders. In particular, he is accused of murder of human rights activist and journalist Galina Starovoytova.


Human rights activist, journalist and the State Duma deputy Galina Vasilievna Starovoytova became famous in the 90-s, when she served as an author of several legislations – “On recovery of political repressions’ victims”, “On rights of national and cultural associations”, “On freedom of worship and on religious associations”, “On recovery and protection of the Russian Federation citizens’ savings” and “On lustration”. She also tried to run for president, but the Central Election Commission refused to register her. Starovoytova was killed under unclear circumstances on November 20, 1998 in entrance hallway of her house in St. Petersburg. Supposedly, she was shot down from machine pistol and gun by the members of Bryanskaya OCG. During the interrogations one of them named Kumarin.

In the late 1980-s Malyshev created his own grouping, which had a conflict with Tambovskiye. But eventually, Malyshev’s OCG have lost the war for the business’ partition. In 1992 he, as well as Petrov, was arrested under accusations of banditry, but in 1995 he was released, because he had already served his punishment of 2,5 years in a remand prison. After that, Malyshev immigrated to Estonia, from where he moved to Germany, where local law enforcement bodies also prosecuted him. After this he settled down in Spain and got married with Latina, taking her last name – Gonsales. 

In 2008 Gennady Petrov was detained in his villa in Palma-de-Majorca during a combat operation Troyka, in which more than 300 Spanish policemen participated. A year and a half later Petrov was released on his own recognizance. His accomplice Malyshev was also detained in Malaga. After that, Petrov went on permitted health leave, but never came back. His other several accessories in the case followed his lead and left under the pretext of poor health to Russia, to escape the extradition procedure. 

The New Times wrote that Petrov was to sign an agreement with Spanish government, according to which he would have admitted the brought charges, agreed to a penalty and confiscation of his property in Spain and intended to leave the country without the right of subsequent entrance. In other words, he was safe from prison anyway, as the investigative prosecutor Hosu Grinda said. However, in practice, Petrov decided to hide from the Spanish justice. According to Forbes, the prosecutors suspect Petrov of murder, arms and drugs trafficking, extortion and fraud. They demand eight years of imprisonment for him. 

Petrov’s lawyer Roberto Mazoriaga wrote in email correspondence that the Prosecutor’s Office of Madrid has not provided any evidences of the charges. It is also reported that Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the Spanish investigation and search suspects at the territory of the Russian Federation. Moreover the MIA demanded from Spanish government to transfer the case to Russia and did not give any chance to interrogate the high-ranking defendants of the case. The last request to hand the case to Russia was sent on December 31, 2013, where the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, referring to the Strasbourg convention of 1972 on transfer of criminal cases, declared that it could conduct the investigation concerning Russian citizens better, and in case they would be convicted – provide them social rehabilitation. However, the Spanish law enforcement forces’ combat operation Troyka, which was in progress for nine years, could not be conducted without participation of Russian side. 

Kinichi Kamiyasu kept a photobook with pictures of Russian mafia leaders
Kinichi Kamiyasu kept a photobook with pictures of Russian mafia leaders


During the search, documents containing information on operation on money laundering through the Vera Metallurgica company, affiliated structure of the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC) were withdrawn from Petrov. UMMC is considered a main asset of Andrey Bokarev and Iskander Makhmudov – influential oligarchs, whose sizes of the state orders exceed even orders of the Rotenberg empire companies. They are also the main shareholders of Transmashholding, Metrovagonmash, October electrocar-repair plant, Roslokomotiv which have won contracts for 130,7 billion rubles from the Russian Railway and Moscow Metro. 

However, in the mid 2000-s the main owners of the asset were Iskander Makhmudov and oligarch Oleg Deripaska, while Bokarev was acting as beneficiary.  Allegedly, this was what saved him from the attention of the Spanish investigation. The investigators have also severed from other charges the case over money laundering against Makhmudov, crime lord Mikhail Cherny, who is hiding from Interpol in Israel, and Deripaska who have given his testimonies to the investigation. According to Spanish media ABC, a co-owner of construction company Baltic Monolith Arcady Buravoy (ABC calls him Petrov’s business partner) and the head of Sberbank German Gref “could have maintained relations with Petrov in the world of business”.  

At the moment, Gennady Petrov lives in elite house at Kamenny Island in St. Petersburg, surrounded by similarly authoritative people. Here also are apartments of the former head of the Department of Presidential Affairs Vladimir Kozhin, Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law Nikolay Shamalov and Viktor Myachin. The last two persons are also members of Ozero cooperative society. What is more, tens of the companies are registered in the name of Petrov’s son – Anton. According to some experts in St. Petersburg criminality, to whom The Insider refers, the companies are actually of his father’s business. Petrov still is an important player on the St. Petersburg criminal field. In approximately same way Aleksander Malyshev, who has also returned to St. Petersburg 20 years after he has left, rests at the moment. 


The criminal grouping of Petrov-Malyshev consisted of about 27 people. In the recent ruling of the Spanish court runs that the judge again confirmed arrest warrants issued in July 2012 for the head of the grouping Gennady Petrov, his wife Elena Petrova and also member of Malyshev’s grouping Leonid Khristoforov. Besides, 14 more people were put on the wanted list – Igor Sobolevsky, former deputy head of the Investigative Committee, State Duma deputy Vladislav Reznik, deputy director of the Federal Drug Control Service Nikolay Aulov, Anton Petrov (Gennady Petrov’s son), entrepreneurs Ilia Traber, Arkady Buravoy, Viktor Gavrilenkov, Sergey Kuzmin, Pavel Kudryashov, Oleg Noskov, Irina Usova and also two Spanish lawyers Juan Antonio Untoria and Julian Jesus Angulo. 

Politicians and officials associated with the gang
Politicians and officials associated with the gang
According to the investigation, one of the defendants of the case, State Duma deputy Vladislav Reznik, actively participated in the grouping’s activities’ organization. As it is written in the indictment, Russian translation of which can be read on Otkrytaya Rossiya website, he was responsible for “performance of the required and necessary actions, both legal and illegal”, in particular trade of contacts and confidential information in the highest jurisdictions of the Russian Federation. Reznik was the only representative of Russia authorities, who was charged. He used the same plane and yacht berth in Spain as Gennady Petrov. As Spanish prosecutors believe, by order of Petrov he also participated in fictitious transactions in Spain, which served for money laundering. The prosecutor’s office intends to confiscate a house at Majorca, which, according to heir data, belongs to the parliamentarian. Reznic has rejected all the charges. According to him, his relations with Petrov had “only social character”. The deputy emphasized that he is ready to come to Spain to protect his reputation if there is a hearing. 

Later, Reznik’s lawyer, Aleksander Gofshtain, reported that the decisions of arrest in absentia and search through the Interpol were appealed. The Spanish prosecutor demands to sentence Reznik to 5,5 years of prison. 

Another member of the criminal grouping, Leonid Khristoforov, was earlier adjudged guilty of two murders. In media he became popular as the man, who sold an AGRAM pistol (the same as the one from which journalist Galina Starovoytova was killed) to Pavel Stekhonovsky, who was suspected in murder of the woman. 

However, the mentioned people disappeared from jurisdiction of the Spanish investigation. Madrid journalist Pablo Munos, who reports on judicial chronicle in ABC newspaper, believes that the Spanish law enforcement bodies had one main purpose – expel the grouping from the country and get rid of “dirty” money stream. It is hard to tell whether the fact that the main defendants of the case were released was a huge failure of the Spanish investigation.  On the one hand, because the accused did not present at the court the case was seriously “weakened”, on the other, Spanish law enforcement bodies made clear that such business would not prosper in the country anymore. 

Recent scandal with Panama offshores, in particular with disclosure of documents connected with several high-ranking Russian officials, has shown one again how seriously many authoritative persons are involved in various schemes on evacuation of the capital and laundering of Russian money abroad. It is unclear, how many different financial streams originate in Russia, however the fact remains – today more often such schemes involve not only members of criminal groupings, but also people connected to the State policy. 

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