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REBELLIOUS PRISONER. CHAPTER THIRTEEN

MEMORIES

MEMORIES

I rarely recollect my past life in my diaries. It would be wrong not to tell about myself and what I have been through, though. I have to mention one episode, a very tragic one.

One day, when I was going fishing with my friend Boris Krivodubskii, we could not even suppose that the weekend would end tragically. We were going back home by three cars. I was driving a mini-van with Valera, my ex-wife’s brother, and the others were in passenger cars. Iulia was going to have a child soon, so Boris took her along the smoother road. We took another highway. 

VAZ-2109 appeared from the country rood, out of the blue and against all the rules, right in front of us. We were almost sent into the ditch as we also had a boat fixed to the car. We also had lots of other staff in the car. When such things happen, decent drivers usually apologise. But they were definitely not decent. Instead of going ahead, that car started making strange movements in front of us. The driver and his friend gave us the finger, and the girls in the back seat were baring their teeth. It turned out later that the guys pertained to one of the most powerful Serpukhov gangs.

We reached Bumazhnaia, and there turned out to be a get-together. There were several other cars and a group of crooked guys. The ones from VAZ-2109 got the nerve to block our way. We had to get out. They attacked Valera at once. He tried to struggle, but it was no use. They beat him savagely. I managed to duck away, and there were fewer attackers against me, so I did my best to reason the young men sniffing with rage. In the end, we arranged the meeting at the same place at 5 p.m. the next day (when they would definitely get sober) and left.

Valera was done up by then. He was covered with blood, his face was blue and swollen, and he had lots of lacerate wounds... We came home. When Boria saw us, he was at a loss for words. By hard adventure, I found out that I had lost my vehicle’s registration certificate at Bumazhnaia. There was nothing I could do about it, we went back. It was getting dark. We did not want to see that group again, but it was very difficult to reissue the registration certificate. We did not expect to meet anyone there. What were they supposed to do there, call the police? Our expectations were wrong. It was absolutely the same as 15 minutes ago: several cars and more than a dozen young men. They waddled up to me, and three of them recognised me,

“Sasha Shestun, is that you?”

“That’s me,” I say although I have never seen them before.

They get more peaceful,

“Sorry, we didn’t recognise you then.”

I move away from the car and keep looking for the registration certificate. At the same time, the rest of the crowd (who stood in the distance and did not hear our conversation) start teasing me. I am almost calm. The important thing is to find the certificate first. But Boris gets nervous, leaves the car and starts the dialogue. The shot-gun (left in the car after the fishing) irritated them, and the situation was heating up again. We should have left, but the car would not start. I suddenly noticed that one of the initiators went to Mercedes 300 parked nearby, got inside and rushed straight at us. I saw that, but Krivodubskii didn’t. 

I had to do something urgently, so I “blocked” that Mercedes. With myself... I am not a hero, and I am not insane, it just seemed to me that they were not going to run over me in front of so many witnesses. It turned out they were.

The Mercedes, as big as a truck, almost hit my feet and made another circle. He turned around, accelerated and hit Boris at full speed. He flew onto the hood, rolled onto the roof, but did not let go of the rifle. Mercedes carried him to an iron fence, but then the driver hit the brakes, and Boris fell onto the ground by inertia. 

When you see it in a movie, you hardly have any negative emotions. On the contrary, well-performed stunts have their own aesthetics. When you your friend is under attack, it feels absolutely different. The Mercedes manoeuvres influenced the crowd like Aurora’s shot at sailors next to the Winter Palace. Almost all of them rushed to the fence, to finish Boris off. That wasn’t how it turned out! As a genuine officer (it did not matter that the former one), Krivodubskii reacted quickly and did the only possible thing: he yelled, “Stand still!” and shot. He did not point at anyone, he shot at the ground.

But the dusty fountain left by the bullet was like magic for the crowd. The ones running to the fence and hoping to finish off the helpless enemy fell to the ground while the others moved aside warily. Meanwhile, I managed to start the car, so we left. 

I took Borys to his apartment after the brief post-mortem at my place. The strange thing was that there were policemen on duty at all the crossroads. Moreover, there was also a group of police officers next to Boris’s house. 

The first thing that came to my mind was that our shot had wounded someone. We did not try to understand how it could have happened because he had shot at the ground. We decided to go to the police station and find everything out. So that could not say later that we had escaped.

We went to Kaluzhskaia Street. Endless interrogation started. We kept telling again and again how we had spend the day, but nobody could answer what all the fuss had been caused by.

Some time later, in the preliminary detention cell, the investigating prosecutor said,

“You are accused of the murder.”

My vision darkened, and the floor swayed like a ship deck when I heard the words. 

It turned out that the gun bullet ricocheted off the asphalt, hit our car and got right into the young man’s heart after it had bounced off the door of the car. It was not the entire bullet, only a part of it. A spent bullet. But it was enough for the young man to die at once.

Boris was arrested. Valera, broken and beaten, suffering from the concussion and backbone injury, also faced all the depth of prison “manners”. They took him away from the hospital and placed into the cell. They threatened to connect electric wires to the most sensitive places.

Dina Anatolevna Kuznetsova, the investigating prosecutor, had no doubts that I and Boris were guilty. Moreover, she blamed me for everything. She offended me. She openly discussed the materials in the case in her own office with the gang leaders, who had not even been at the scene of the incident. Her behaviour seemed very strange. I had known Kuznetsova since the school years, we studied in parallel forms and never had any conflicts. I could not understand the reasons for her sudden animosity. 

Why did they try so hard to make us confess to something we had not done? Who could win or lose from that? It was not clear. Everything had happened at the bus stop where there were many witnesses. The murder was obviously unintentional. The bullet ricocheted. The lethal trajectory of the fragment was just an incredible combination of circumstances. The young man was probably destined to die that way as he had been a regular visitor of the traumatic surgery unit because of his “occupation” and a very hot temper.

Meanwhile, a grand funeral was organised for the deceased. Let me remind that the young man pertained to the largest Serpukhov hang. More than a hundred people were invited to the funeral feast. The friends of the deceased came to Kaluzhskaia Street, where I and Boris were being interrogated, and threatened to kill us. They said that the businessmen were too daring to kill their brothers. In a day, some bottles with flame liquid were thrown at the window of our Bravo shop, and the truck was set on fire. There were some more attempts to take revenge on us... However, I could understand them.

The investigative proceedings were desperately long. The results of the ballistics tests were received in a month only. They confirmed the preliminary opinion: yes, the bullet had ricocheted. Based on the expert examination and numerous witnesses’ testimony, I demanded to change the article under which Boris was accused and to release him. But nothing happened. We could not understand why. The attackers could not explain either to us or to the investigator clearly and reasonably why they had stopped the car. They could not think straight and claimed I had cut them up although my car had never been in front of their car, which was confirmed at the face-to-face interrogation. According to them, they ran over Boris with their Mercedes to make him drop the shot-gun. 

But Boris had been hit with the car, so he could not know for sure what an adequate response had to be, and he did the thing that seemed right that moment: a warning shot at the ground. Now the State Duma has adopted the draft law amending the Criminal Code of Russia regarding the limits of necessary self defence: every citizen may defend himself without fear of being punished if he has been attacked or his life is in danger. In those times, we had to prove that long and persistently.

Also, my attorney had his car stolen. The return condition was that he had to leave for the countryside for the summer, which the attorney did; he left me alone during the most complicated period. I went to the city prosecutor and claimed that I knew my and Boris’s civil rights and would fight for them. The prosecutor responded that he appreciated that I was concerned about my friend. He added that many people would prefer to steer clear in such situation to be safe. But his words remained the words, and Boris was still in prison. 

I started writing complaints to prosecutor’s offices of different levels and other agencies demanding to cease abuse by the local servants of Themis. The Serpukhov prosecutor’s office obviously did not like it, and they asked me to stop the paper attacks and promised to set Boris free. I agreed for some time, but nobody was going to release Krivodubskii. They kept requesting new expert examinations to extend the duration of investigative proceedings. There seemed no end to it. My numerous multi-page letters got to the capital city, but were of no effect: Boris was still in prison.

I must say that, in addition to the legal support, I did my best to give Boris moral support. I had the radio cables laid to the part of the prison where Krivodubskii was held, and sent him daily greetings on the radio. From me, from his relatives and friends. Boris received at least two radio confirmations of our love and care for six months (which was the period he spent in prison). Boris got everything he might need, including photographs, letters and food, in large quantities.

On 25 October, it got absolutely obvious he would celebrate his birthday in the cell. I wanted to organise something that would lift his spirits a little. That was what we did. I audio-recorded everyone who wanted to congratulate him: daughter, wife, parents, friends and staff of the shop. Some recited poems, some sang, some just said warm words... I took them all to local radio and asked to include that concert into the show. I myself congratulated him on air. 

As Boris told me later, the show had left a long and lasting impression on him and his cell mates. When his little daughter was reciting the poem, all his cell mates were ground.

Some citizens on the outside had the opposite reaction. Something like, “Why play songs for the murdered?” There were no radio greetings to Boris after that. 

Anyway, he got our gift. Boris was released on 6 December. The notorious proceedings were terminated in six months after the fatal shot.

But the crisis of the Krivodubskiis did not end then. Boris’s mother died of the heard attack suddenly in a year and a half. She died right in front of her husband’s and younger son’s eyes. She was only 52. It is quite possible that Boris’s six-month imprisonment be due in no small part to her death.

 

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