Crime Watch

For almost four years I wrote a weekly column for The Moscow Times called "Crime Watch," in which I chronicled the most bizarre, ingenious, heinous and hilarious crimes across Russia's eleven time zones. I've included in this section a batch of columns that for one reason or another struck me as particularly intriguing. I must thank an array of editors who provided consistently lurid headlines over the years.

Chunks of Flesh, Leg Found In Trash

Jul 04, 2007
In a week of bizarre crimes involving dismembered corpses, an elderly woman hacked up her adult son with an ax and a saw after years of fighting over his girlfriends, while a sawed-off leg led police to two suspects in a d...(more)

Fugitive Tells FSB He Is an American

May 07, 2007
A 24-year-old fugitive has been detained in Samara while posing as a U.S. citizen trying to set a world record by crossing Russia without money or identification. Rustam Dzhumaliyev, of the Primorye region village of Kh...(more)

Vegetable Oil Mogul Hit With RPG

Dec 20, 2006
Using firepower reminiscent of the gangland wars of the 1990s, unidentified assailants fired two rocket-propelled grenades at an armored car Saturday in an apparent attempt on the life of a little-known vegetable-oil mogul...(more)

Man Killed By Grenade Detonated in Pocket

Oct 11, 2006
A Moscow man was killed last week in a drunken scuffle when a grenade exploded in his pocket. Yury Petrushkov, 36, was drinking with another man in a courtyard on Ulitsa Belorechenskaya in southeast Moscow when the two ...(more)

Luckless Car Thief Runs Out of Gas

Sep 06, 2006
A car thief with a tragicomic record of heists gone awry was arrested Thursday morning after the Volkswagen he had stolen ran out of gas in rush hour traffic, police said. Traffic police arrested Alexei Ashurin, 30, at ...(more)

Guard Steals From Bank to Pay Off a Bank Loan

Aug 09, 2006
A security guard stole 18,000 rubles ($675) from the bank where he worked and was caught trying to use the money to pay back a loan to the same bank, police said. ZelakBank in Moscow's northwest Zelenograd district was ...(more)

Wedding Guest Shoots Two Guards

Jul 19, 2006
A wedding reception in central Moscow turned bloody early Sunday morning when one of the guests shot two security guards at a local casino following an argument over a parking space, leaving one guard dead and the second s...(more)

Police Arrest Best Man in Girlfriend's Death

Jun 07, 2006
The best man at a local wedding was arrested during the reception on Saturday and charged with strangling his girlfriend and burying her body in a forest outside Moscow in what police say was a fake kidnapping gone awry. ...(more)

Fridge Thief Has to Pay for What He Ate

Oct 26, 2005
Refrigerators in communal apartments have provided five-finger discounts for many a petty thief over the years: a dollop of mayonnaise, a pilfered pickle, a slumbering flatmate's last drops of milk surreptitiously poured i...(more)

4 Bodies Lie in an Apartment for Years

Jun 09, 2005
A police officer tracking down people delinquent on their utility bills made a gruesome discovery when he broke into an apartment in southeast Moscow and found the skeletal remains of four family members who apparently die...(more)

The Nose, His Wife and Her Hit Man

Nov 04, 2004
In Nikolai Gogol's famous short story "The Nose," Major Kovalyov wakes up one morning to discover that his nose has vanished and is wandering around St. Petersburg wearing his uniform. Luckily for Kovalyov, he...(more)

Woman Marries Man She Tried to Kill

Sep 09, 2004
Maybe love really does conquer all. Consider the case of Anastasia Nasinovskaya, who took $10,000 from her boyfriend to order his murder and then wound up marrying him. Igor Lantsov, former deputy director of the Kr...(more)

Police: Tenant Ate Landlady's Dog

Aug 05, 2004
A suspected car thief is in police custody on suspicion of killing and eating his landlady's dog. Police arrested Maxim Kolov, 21, on July 9 after Nina Zotova reported that her tenant had killed her dog Tuzik, a husky-c...(more)

Man Is Delared Dead, Thanks to His Ex-Wife

Jul 15, 2004
It never occurred to Oleg Lunkov that he might be dead. But on April 29, when he walked into a Butyrsky district police station in northern Moscow to pick up his new passport, an officer informed him that he was officia...(more)

Murder Victim Flushed Down Toilet

Jun 10, 2004
Blood seeping out of a bathtub and toilet led police to a grisly murder last Thursday. They arrested two men in an upstairs apartment on suspicion of killing a woman during a drunken argument, dismembering her body and flu...(more)

4 Bodies and a Baby in Flat Feud

Apr 22, 2004
Anyone who has ever lived in a communal apartment can attest to the disadvantages of such a life: standing in line for morning showers, food being pilfered by ravenous flatmates, and, of course, a distinct lack of romantic...(more)

A Former Policeman Bites Off His Tongue

Mar 04, 2004
Legend has it that Japan's mysterious ninjas in the Middle Ages would bite off their tongues when taken prisoner. By severing the large arteries in the body's strongest muscle, a ninja could then bleed to death peacefully ...(more)

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