The íPride of Russiaí: A Corrupt Politicianís Ignoble Demise
2013-03-27 0:00

By Matthias Schepp | Spiegel

A corrupt rising star in Putinís ruling party was recently found dead in a cement-filled barrel. His murder reveals the murky cross-section of politics, business and crime that characterizes todayís Russia.

Before Mikhail Pakhomov ended up in a metal barrel, his bones broken and his body encased in cement, he enjoyed himself one last time. It was the evening of February 12, and Pakhomov went to Marengo, his favorite restaurant in Lipetsk, an industrial city 370 kilometers (230 miles) from Moscow. On either side of the restaurant, which serves a beef salad called the "Camorra," are the Raspberry movie theater and the Igniter strip club.

For once Pakhomov, 35, was without female company, says a waitress. When he left the restaurant, three men dragged him into a car. When Pakhomov tried to escape, the men shot at him. Then they continued driving toward Moscow and delivered the injured man to their presumed customer. Pakhomov was then locked in an ice-cold basement and tortured.

Once he had died, his tormenter stuffed his body into a barrel filled with cement, wrapped it in plastic and hid it in a damp garage, where the police found it soon afterwards. It took them seven hours to cut through the cement and expose the body of Pakhomov, a local politician, businessman and rising star in Russian President Vladimir Putinís party.

It was more than just a corpse that had come to light. The discovery shone a spotlight on an entire system, a network of politicians, businessmen and criminals, held together by corruption and money into the billions. The Pakhomov case exposes a Russia in which a mobster becomes a businessman and then a politician, and is even awarded the "Pride of Russia" medal.

After his death, the government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta gave Pakhomov an exceedingly large and favorable obituary, without mentioning his criminal past. He was indeed a model politician, just not the way in which he is described in the hymns of praise written after his death.

íCriminals Have Come Into Powerí

In the 1990s Pakhomov was involved in the robbery of a grocery store. He only managed to stay out of prison because his father, a well-known theater director, paid for a favorable psychiatric evaluation.

"Pakhomov was part of the mafia, the Lipetsk Brotherhood. His death is the logical consequence of his career. He cheated too many people," says Sergei Valetov, a former police colonel who, as head of the organized crime division of the regional police department, was investigating Pakhomov. "Criminals have come into power, and Pakhomov isnít the only politician who made his money in illicit ways."


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