Friday, March 22, 2019

Russian Gangsta With a Heart of...ah...Amber

From FT Alphaville:
Last week, we promised you more on Aleksey Krupnyakov, the former Olympic wrestler who is now on the run from the police, having found himself caught up with a bunch of amber dealing gangsters in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

So here it is. We made a video and everything (please excuse the slightly unpolished footage, which was all shot on my iPhone apart from the wrestling shots):

Krupnyakov is not a guy you'd want to get into a fight with. A former policeman, he competed twice as a freestyle wrestler at the Summer Olympics, in 2004, and 2008, and won the bronze at both the 2005 and 2010 World Wrestling Championships in the 96kg category (the second-heaviest one). But after testing positive for doping, he was disqualified from wrestling for two years, during which time he went into mixed martial arts (MMA), winning all five of his fights. In 2013, he went back into wrestling briefly but, according to him, he’d lost his taste for hurting people.

So in 2014, he started providing what he calls security services to the “black diggers” so-called because they operate in the black marketwho illegally mine Kaliningrad amber to sell to the Chinese.

He described to me what he did as follows:
We were looking after these guys, unlike all the other gangsters who were just taking their money and that’s it… We were providing security from intimidation from other gangsters and other diggers....