On January 20 legal hearing accompanied by extremely strict security measures started in Tallin, Estonia, defendant is short thin 22-year old Russian citizen, former cadet of St Petersburg Military and Naval Institute, Yuri Ustimenko (left on the photo).
Estonian special force servicemen encircled the court building; metal detector was installed at the entrance of the hearing room. A dozen of policemen in civilian clothes are inside the room as well. The hearing for Ustimenko and his accomplice, 37-year old local resident Valery Pozhidaev is going to be long.
In October 2001 two cadets-deserters from the Department of Anti-Submarine, Torpedo and Mine Weapons of the Naval Corps Yuri Ustimenko and Dmitry Medvedev undressed and got themselves covered with fat not to freeze themselves in the water, swam across the Narova river on the Estonian-Russian border. Their friend, another former Naval Corps cadet, who had an Estonian residence permit, met them on the other river bank, gave clothes and took them to the shelter he had prepared beforehand.
Only in May 2002 the two former cadets came under the Estonian police scrutiny. By that time they had had a long list of bloody crimes from the Estonian town of Narva to the Polish town of Suvalki. Yuri Ustimenko has been accused of violating 24 points of the Criminal Code, such as robberies, arranging explosions, document forgeries, five murders and two murderous assaults committed in Estonia. Ustimenko’s friend Dmitry Medvedev avoided prosecution only because he had been killed by the Latvian police on the Estonian-Latvian border. Separate investigation is in progress on 13 more crimes committed by Ustimenko. In addition, the Estonian police are expecting additional information from the Polish authorities.
The defendant and his friend managed to accomplish all these heroic deeds for 3-4 months of their criminal activity in Estonia. In summer 2002 Ustimenko tried to go into hiding. Having a forged passport , he crossed four state borders, but was caught in Poland. In November the Polish authorities passed him over to the Estonian law-enforcers.
Crime accessory Pozhidaev is a small fry in comparison with his companions. He was a tipper-of for the gang. “Valiant cadets-swimmers” were the bosses in the criminal activity. They called themselves predators. Probably, they both mastered the naval special force skills perfectly: they forged documents, produced explosives, state borders and border guards were not obstacles for them, the criminals’ impudence and mobility were shocking for quiet Estonia.
The perspective of life imprisonment is looming for the defendant. However, he can hardly spend all his prison term in an Estonian prison driven by European standards. In several years Ustimenko is likely to be passed over to Russia on the grounds of the related Estonian-Russian agreement, and put to jail in Vologodskaya oblast with severe conditions. He may be placed in the prison cell where Chechen militant Salman Raduev passed away.
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