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“Black Avengers”, the most brutal gang of the USSR

The creator and leader of the gang was a criminal Nikolai Mikhailovich Safonov named Saban, a native of Tambov province, tried six times. His closest aide was a criminal named “Captain”. Both attackers had considerable experience with regard to thefts, robberies, burglaries, several convictions, years of hard labor. In the gang of Saban entered and other criminals.

The gang formed by Safonov eventually became one of the most numerous in Moscow. It consisted of 34 people. According to operational data, the threat and the IBSC, the gang was an adviser from former officers, it was he who developed the tactics of raiding. The gang was divided into two groups, one of which was led by Alexander Andreev, and the other by Nikolai Pavlov. In addition, the gang was divided into shock groups – a group of reconnaissance, capture, cover and retreat.

Saban (so called the leader of the gang of “black avengers”) hated militiamen and rich people. The first he blamed for years spent behind bars. The latter were objects of hunting, which should be despised. For three years, Nikolai Safonov’s gang kept Moscow in awe. During this time, criminals managed to enrich themselves in an amount exceeding 4 million rubles, and killed more than 30 people. Especially loved by the “avengers” to perform ostentatious, mass executions.

This became their distinctive feature, a kind of visiting card.

In 1917, Nikolai Safonov came to the conclusion that now is the best time to implement the old idea – the creation of a gang. Saban had 6 convictions and was considered a dangerous recidivist by this time. In the creation of the gang he was actively helped by a criminal named Captain. Both gangsters had a lot of experience in thefts and armed raids. Therefore, the Captain became Safonov’s chief assistant.

The gang grew rapidly, replenishing with new recidivists. Soon, under the Saban, more than three dozen people “worked”, which made Safonov the leader of almost the largest criminal organization in Moscow. He succeeded in recruiting and former officer, who helped the leader of the councils. He built for the bandits tactical schemes of armed raids.

By the way, the gang was distinguished by a good organization with a clear distribution of roles. Some were responsible for reconnaissance, others for seizure, others for cover, and fourth for retreat. For any disobedience to the order, Nikolai Safonov shot a man personally in front of accomplices.

The bandits began with the robbery of the mansion. The extraction amounted to about 200 thousand rubles. Then came the attack on a certain manufacturer Ivanov. Here the bandits were waiting for a more rich catch – 1.5 million rubles. After the robbery, criminals killed Ivanov and his entire family. They divided the loot at a dacha located in Sokolniki.

Of course, law enforcement agencies began an active search for a gang, but for a long time their attempts to reach the trail of criminals ended in failure. Moreover, one day Safonov decided to show MURovtsam who is the real master of Moscow. Together with one of the accomplices, he went to the police station. Having introduced himself, he began to shoot at the policemen with pistols, and then demonstrated a bomb. The frightened guards of the order fled, and the contented criminal went to his lair.

His comrades-in-arms often said that he hated militiamen, because because of them his best years were spent behind bars and in penal servitude.

In 1919, Saban decided to take a “vacation” and for a while to stop the robbery. Instead, he and his accomplices began to hunt for representatives of law enforcement agencies. In January they killed 16 guards. The scheme was simple. On the car criminals drove up to the guard of order and something was asked of him. When the guard was approaching, they shot.

After the death of several policemen, rumors spread about Moscow about certain “black avengers”. The guards, fearing for their lives, began to refuse to go on duty one at a time. Once MURovtsy were close and catching Safonov. They organized an ambush into which the criminal had fallen. But he managed to escape, wounding one policeman.

On April 26, 1919, the custodians succeeded in arresting the Captain. The offender, trying to escape from the persecution, tried to hide in the building of the Bolshoi Theater. But he did not succeed.

Saban hardly experienced the arrest of the accomplice and friend. For a while he decided to lie to the bottom. Therefore, he left for the town of Lebedyan in the Tambov province. Here lived his sister and his family. 
For a long time Nikolay Safonov did not stay in the provinces. During the quarrel, he killed his own sister, her husband and children (only 8 people). Neighbors, who heard screams, burst into the house. But it was too late. However, they seized Saban and made lynchings, deciding not to hand over his militia. Thus ended the life of one of the most dangerous criminals of the young Soviet state.

Elimination of the gang

After the Captain’s arrest and the death of Safonov, the power in the gang was captured by Pavel Morozov, better known as Pasha Novodeverensky. He continued the Saban case. Morozov, in order to fix the financial situation of the gang, decided to rob the cashier of the Bogatyr factory. For several days the criminals were engaged in reconnaissance, and then they attacked. Their extraction amounted to 660 thousand rubles.

After that, they attacked the artel and the policeman who guarded him. After killing people, the criminals seized 150 thousand rubles. Then there was a raid on Isaev’s house. Bandits were enriched by 100 thousand rubles. During the robbery, they killed a man and his family.

The geography of the attacks during Moroz expanded. Criminals wielded not only in the capital itself. For example, in the village of Globovo, Bogorodsky Uyezd, which belonged to the Moscow province, they attacked the house of one well-off person. Having dealt with him and his family, Morozov gave the command to return to the city.

Gradually, the gang began to go worse. One by one the criminals began to arrest the militiamen. One of them told the MURovs about the existence of a new leader, Morozov.

A member of the gang Mikhail Mikhailov, nicknamed Mishka Khivabliz, was detained by officers of the criminal section of the IBSC on the Krasnokholmskaya embankment. At the time of his arrest, he exerted desperate armed resistance and, shooting back, killed a passing woman.

Mikhailov himself was wounded, a revolver and an English bomb were taken away from him during the search. During the interrogation, he denied everything. Then he was confronted with one gangster, and he gave his accomplice. So it became known about the existence of the Pasha Novoderevensky gang.

Somewhat later, at the apartment of his partner in Kuskovo, the operatives managed to detain Sergei Kapustin and to confiscate a considerable number of weapons during the search: two charged revolvers of the Mauser, Nagan, Smith-Wesson, one capsule from the bomb, ammunition with cartridges to the Colt , a loaded rifle and 6 packs of cartridges to it.

The interrogation began right on the spot, Kapustin began to give evidence. They learned from him where Pavel Morozov was hiding. The police patrol was sent to Perovo. The militiamen surrounded the house, blocked all approaches to it. Two gangsters, who settled in the house, began to shoot back, but were wounded and detained.

According to the testimony of Pashka Novoderevensky, a neighbor who lived in the house, the police found that some of the attackers had already gone to the countryside in Schelkovo on the Yaroslavl Railway early in the morning. The exact address of the woman did not know, but said where there could be another group of bandits – not far away, in Perovo, in the apartment of the warehouse manager of the former firm of the Nobel brothers.

Having left at this address, the policemen tried to detain Stepan Smirnov and Pyotr Mileshin who were there, but they began to shoot back. As a result, Smirnov was killed, and Mileshin surrendered. He named the possible residence of the active member of Ivan Naryshev’s gang – his own home near the Rogozhskaya outpost.

The militiamen surrounded this house and tried to enter the gates. At this time, Naryshev, who was in the attic, opened fire on policemen from two revolvers. In the ensuing shootout, Naryshev was wounded, detained and later interrogated the secret base of Morozov during interrogation. On February 15, 1920, policemen ambushed this base, on February 17 they arrested a bandit named Bochkarev there.

The next day Morozov himself came to the base together with Peter Chernyshev and Anton Kosy. Apparently, sensing something was wrong, the bandits kept their weapons ready. An exchange of fire ensued, the bandits ran out into the courtyard, tried to leave for the forest. As a result of the shooting, Chernyshov was killed, Kosoy and Morozov were wounded. They blew up the bomb and managed to escape, nobody was injured by the explosion.

May 7, 1920 was arrested Pavel Arkhipov named Pasha Gluhoy, he was confiscated 2 revolvers.

Subsequently, the leader of the gang, Pavel Morozov, during a quarrel in the sharing of stolen valuables, was killed by an ordinary member of the gang – Ivan Barabanov, nicknamed Vanka Voronoi. All other arrested bandits were shot by order of the college of the IBSC.

The gang even managed to rob Vladimir Ilyich Lenin himself. Here is the report of the criminal section of the Moscow Emergency Committee: In January 1919, on the Sokolnicheskoye highway near the Krasnokholmsky bridge, the criminal Koshelkov and his associates Zaitsev, nicknamed Vaska-chauffeur, and also Volkov named Konek, Kirillov, Lenka Sapozhnik, stopped a car in which the chairman was traveling Council of People’s Commissars Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. Bandits under the threat of weapons took Lenin’s car, a revolver system, Browning, documents and disappeared.

At the Yaroslavl train station, the Purses, examining the items selected, established by documents that the robbed victim was Lenin, and immediately ordered him to go back in order to kill the chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, but Comrade Lenin was already out of danger at that time, in the building of Sokolniki council.


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