Crime Watch

4 Bodies and a Baby in Flat Feud

Apr 22, 2004
The Moscow Times

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 privacy.

But living in a communal apartment does have one thing going for it: it's cheap.

According to police, that's what worried Vladislav Kravchenko. And his financial considerations apparently resulted in one of the city's more disturbing crime scenes this year: an infant discovered living alone for two days among four bodies strewn about an apartment in southern Moscow.

Police discovered the grisly scene after Kravchenko, 24, called police on April 12, telling them that he had returned home from his dacha to find the bodies of his aunt, Nadezhda Savina, his cousin, Alexei Savin, his cousin's wife, Anastasia Gushchina, and Gushchina's friend Yelena Lobachyova.

The only person alive in the five-room apartment, of which Kravchenko and Savina shared ownership, was Maxim, Gushchina's 18-month-old son. Maxim had been without food and water for two days, police said, and was immediately hospitalized.

A spokeswoman from the city prosecutor's office said Wednesday that the child was in still in the hospital in stable condition, and that authorities are currently in the process of deciding which of his relatives will receive custody.

Savina, Savin and Gushchina died from bullet wounds, police said, while Lobachyova was stabbed to death. Investigators determined that the slayings took place April 10.

Police said Kravchenko became an immediate suspect in the murders. "This didn't look like a random killing, so we had to ask the question, 'Who benefits?'" a police spokesman said.

Kravchenko was arrested and interrogated, after which police say he admitted his involvement in the murders.

Apparently Kravchenko was interested in selling his half of the apartment for a tidy sum. Kommersant put the apartment's market value at $130,000.

Savina, however, had other plans.

Citing police investigators, Kommersant reported that Savina wanted to turn the flat into a communal apartment, which would have made it extremely difficult for Kravchenko to sell his half at its market price.

It was at this point that Kravchenko supposedly offered $30,000 to his friend Roman Polyakov, 23, to kill Savina. The money was to come from Kravchenko's return on the sale of the apartment after Savina was out of the picture.

While Kravchenko was out of town, police say Polyakov arranged for a friend, 21-year-old Vladislav Budarin, to help him carry out the hit, and on April 10, the two set off for the apartment on Brateyevskaya Ulitsa on Moscow's southern outskirts. Polyakov received a key to the apartment from Kravchenko, and upon entering, he and Budarin discovered that Savina had company -- Savin, Gushchina, and Lobachyova and Maxim, according to police.

Armed with a pistol and a knife, the two hired killers killed all of the adults, leaving only Maxim alive, police said.

The spokesman said police obtained Kravchenko's initial confession by placing a man who regularly "does some work" for them in the suspect's holding cell. He would not elaborate.

After admitting his involvement, Kravchenko told of Polyakov and Budarin's roles in the killings, and the two were arrested shortly thereafter, the spokesman said. Prosecutors have charged the three suspects with murder. If convicted, they could spend the rest of their lives in prison.

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