And in order to end up in prison, a 55% match of his biometric data with an identikit of dubious quality and confused testimony of an “accomplice” who is already under investigation is enough.
The first stage of the Tsvetkov case fits perfectly into a typical scheme that is well known to fans of detective series. First, the prologue: four murders committed with extreme cruelty back in 2002. Then the action is transferred to our days. On February 16, 2023, the flight “Krasnoyarsk – Moscow” lands in Domodedovo, people begin to prepare for the exit. At this moment, the order “Everyone stay in place!” The police enter the salon, put handcuffs on one of the passengers and, having twisted, as a particularly dangerous recidivist, takes him away in an unknown direction.
Detained and then arrested on charges of murders 20 years ago was Alexander Tsvetkov, a resident of the village of Borok, Yaroslavl Region, and a researcher at the Institute of Biology of Inland Waters of the Russian Academy of Sciences located there. He was born in 1973 in Rybinsk. As a schoolboy, he began to study at the station of young naturalists. Graduated from the Faculty of Biology of Yaroslavl University and since 1996 has been working at the Institute of Biology of Inland Waters.
For more than 26 years, Tsvetkov has been involved in hydrology, organizing expeditions and scientific conferences, giving educational lectures on wildlife at a local school (about beavers, groundwater, etc.). In addition, he is a regular participant in the Children of the Volga interregional expedition, aimed at attracting the younger generation to the study of natural sciences in the field. And together with his wife Marina, he raises three daughters, the eldest of whom is 19 today, the middle one is 16 and the youngest is 10 years old.
Friends and colleagues call him trouble-free, sympathetic, calm, benevolent, a very good person or a normal man – one of those who keeps science and life in the Russian outback.
– Sasha Tsvetkov is one of the best people I ever met in my life. A real man. real scientist, real field worker. There are very few of them left,” says one of his colleagues.
All these characteristics are very poorly mounted with the image of a cruel killer who, during field work in the forests of the Susaninsky district of the Kostroma region located beyond the Volga, made daring raids on the capital and the region in the first ten days of August 2002, killed people and, as if nothing had happened, returned to hydrological research and the preparation of a scientific conference, at which, just a month after the bloody crimes, he met his future wife. Such a plot could form the basis of a detective story with elements of a thriller (given the special cruelty of crimes such as putting the head of one of the victims in a burning stove).
Are such reincarnations of a person possible in real life?
“No, they are impossible,” Tsvetkov’s colleagues unanimously answer, pointing also to the fact that he never went anywhere during the entire expedition. And all this time they were in remote, poorly passable areas, from which it is impossible to get out without special transport. Moscow is a total of more than 450 kilometers, and at least a third of the way passes through very bad roads.
“It is quite possible,” will answer detective lovers who are familiar with even more sophisticated plots. The same opinion is shared, apparently, by the investigators of the Investigative Committee, who in practice encountered criminals who had the ability to mimic. Moreover, skeptics still do not believe that the criminal could stop “on the laurels”, and extrapolate the situation to previous and subsequent years. Therefore, the fears of Tsvetkov’s friends, no matter how other crimes are hung on him, look quite reasonable.
The fact of Tsvetkov’s constant presence on the expedition is confirmed not only by the testimony of its participants (were they properly recorded by the investigation?), but also by documents, including photographs, from the institute’s archive. All of them were provided to the Investigative Committee on February 21, that is, five days after Tsvetkov’s arrest.
The investigation, of course, may consider this argument insufficient, believing that in a friendly team a person can always agree that his departure be covered. But the very fact of the existence of these documents, as well as the effect of the presumption of innocence, require that the prosecution prove not only Tsvetkov’s departure from the expedition, but at least his presence in Moscow or the Moscow region on the days of the crime. Judging by the information that the defendant’s lawyer has, the investigation does not have such evidence.
It turns out that the position of the prosecution is based only on the testimony of Tsvetkov’s “accomplice” – recidivist Andrey Alyoshin, who was detained in 2003 on suspicion of committing these murders, but, despite the fact that he admitted his guilt, was released, because during the investigative experiment he could not show where and how the crimes were committed.
In November 2022, Alyoshin was again detained on charges of the same four murders and has been in pre-trial detention since then.
This time, the investigation is not embarrassed by his poor knowledge of the details of the crime, and the cooperation of the Investigative Committee with the accused is developing in a more constructive manner. During the confrontation, Alyoshin identified Tsvetkov, called him “Sasha Chuvash” and said that he met him shortly before the murders in a company that hung out in the area of three stations on Komsomolskaya Square. Tsvetkov denies these facts, which means that they require additional evidence, especially since other testimony of the “accomplice” looks rather doubtful.
In particular, Aleshin describes Tsvetkov as a rude and tough person (which does not fit with the appearance of the accused) and claims that he had tattoos of rings and some kind of Celtic pattern on his hands, but neither tattoos nor traces of them were found on the hands of the detained scientist. managed. In addition, one of the witnesses who saw Alyoshin together with “Sasha Chuvash” describes the latter as a man of 40–45 years old (Tsvetkov was then 29 years old, and he looked even younger than his age), taller than 180 centimeters (Tsvetkov’s height is 174 centimeters ).
In this situation, the case could fall apart at the initial stage of the preliminary investigation, but the operatives and the investigator showed perseverance, and the detainee Tsvetkov gave up. At the end of the first day of the investigation, he admitted his guilt, and a few hours later he retracted this testimony. What these maneuvers mean remains unclear. Relatives believe that pressure was put on him, most likely psychological, and he was tired after a business trip to Bratsk, a sleepless night, a flight, cold (he was taken out of the plane without outerwear, and in Moscow that day it was minus 9 degrees) . A certain role was played by the shock of what happened and the nervous strain. But then he came to his senses and said that he had slandered himself under pressure from the investigator.
To the question, is it really possible to break a healthy smart man so quickly, an old acquaintance of Tsvetkov replies:
– I am quite sure that Sasha was not involved in any murders. He is a very good person. But he lived all his life in the greenhouse conditions of a small scientific community.
“I have always been an absolutely apolitical and non-conflict person. And he did not want to know anything, except for his science, nature, and, perhaps, his family, in which there were no serious problems either. Such people often do not withstand collisions with the system, especially in such unsightly manifestations of it.
| Source “Octagon”
Most likely, that’s exactly what happened. But elementary logic requires us to consider another option: Tsvetkov could confess because he felt exposed, and then, realizing that there was no irrefutable evidence of his guilt, he declared that he had slandered himself. It is clear that such a scenario is beneficial to the prosecution, and it will look for and find new witnesses and new evidence, continuing to put pressure on the person under investigation.
As a result, on March 7, the Ostankino Court of Moscow dismissed the appeal of lawyer Tsvetkov, who tried to change the measure of restraint to a written undertaking not to leave or house arrest. Documentary evidence of an alibi did not help. The pre-trial detention period was extended until June 14. The fact that Tsvetkov does not live in Moscow, but in Borok, could also play a certain role in the court’s decision, and placing him under house arrest or on his own recognizance would make it virtually impossible to carry out any investigative actions. Another question: why should the court play on the side of the investigation, whose actions were, to put it mildly, faulty?
It all started with the fact that at the time of departure from Domodedovo to Krasnoyarsk to work in the Bratsk region, Tsvetkov’s biometric data coincided 55 percent with the identikit of a possible killer. After that, the photographs of the scientist were shown to witnesses and the alleged “accomplice”. All of them recognized in them the person whom they saw 20 years ago. This data is quite enough for a more detailed pre-investigation check, but not for a hard detention with handcuffs and hand-wringing.
The plane landed in Moscow at about 11:00, but Tsvetkov was able to call his wife only at 20:00, that is, nine hours after the arrest, which is a violation of the right to a telephone conversation, which should be granted “no later than three hours from the moment the suspect was delivered to the body of inquiry or to the investigator” (Code of Criminal Procedure (CPC), art. 96, p. 1). An alternative option, providing for the notification of relatives by an interrogating officer or investigator, was ignored.
At the same time, for at least the same nine hours, the suspect was kept in the dark about his legal status.
Calling home, Tsvetkov said that the investigator was interrogating him as a witness. But witnesses are not handcuffed for interrogation. It is not clear what role the lawyer played in this “representation” and whether he was present at all during the first interrogations.
In the temporary detention center, Tsvetkov was interrogated twice at night, although “an investigative action at night is not allowed, except in cases of urgency” (CPC, Article 164, paragraph 3). The clause on the possibility of conducting investigative actions at night applies only to urgent actions taken “in order to detect and fix traces of a crime, as well as evidence that requires immediate consolidation, seizure and investigation” (CPC, art. 5, p. 19). Which can hardly be applied to a case that has lain in the archive for almost 20 years.
Another significant violation is pressure on the defendant, which in this case led to self-incrimination.
Such behavior of an inquirer or investigator is unacceptable: “In the course of investigative actions, the use of violence, threats and other illegal measures is unacceptable” (CCP, Art. 164, p. 4). “Evidence obtained in violation of the requirements of this Code is inadmissible and cannot form the basis of an accusation” (CPC, Art. 75, p. 1).
Such a heap of violations testifies to the desire of the investigating authorities as soon as possible (and, possibly, at any cost) to close this 20-year-old case by imprisoning Tsvetkov. Such a formulation of the question practically excludes a random error and suggests the presence of some kind of order. But friends and acquaintances of the scientist reject this version. According to them, he could not have any conflicts with the powers that be, because they simply did not suspect of his existence: he did not participate in developments that could infringe on the interests of business, did not lead independent topics, did not receive personal grants. This means that there must be some other explanation for what is happening.
The Investigative Committee began to seriously investigate the crimes of past years almost immediately after its creation in 2007. In July 2014, the chairman of the Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, signed an order “On the organization of work on the investigation of criminal cases on crimes of past years”, which set the organizational and methodological framework for this activity. Among other things, the document ordered the creation of special specialized groups in the investigation departments of the Investigative Committee, including those operating on an ongoing basis, to expand the use of modern technical and forensic tools (databases of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, genomic accounting) and to involve psychologists “to activate the memory of witnesses and victims” .
In 2021, in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the same Bastrykin already spoke about the use of “digital forensics” methods in the work of the Investigative Committee: from the study of information stored on electronic media and digital devices, to working with information arrays of the Safe City and Safe City systems. region”, that is, video cameras located in crowded places.
Systematic work and the use of advanced technologies gave an amazing effect.
According to Bastrykin, “during the existence of the Investigative Committee, more than 90,000 crimes of past years were solved, of which more than 9,000 were murders.”
That is, on average, given that the Investigative Committee has existed for just over 15 years, every year 6,000 old cases were brought to trial, including 600 cases related to murders.
There were practically no resonant ones among them, except for the landings of the former “owner of Krasnoyarsk” Anatoly Bykov and the governor of the Khabarovsk Territory Sergey Furgal, who also ended up behind bars based on the testimony of their accomplices who were in prison. Crime boss and killer Vladimir Tatarenkov, nicknamed Tatarin, testified about Bykov’s involvement in the double murder of 1994, and Nikolai Mistryukov, the general director of the Dalpromsnab company and the owner of several other companies, who was under arrest, helped to convict him of the murders committed in 2004–2005. Furgal’s former partner. “Digital forensics” in these cases was not needed due to the publicity of these figures.
But when solving other cases, it can give good results. The probability of matching the biometric data of two real people tends to zero (negligible), but if instead of one of them there is an identikit, and the matching threshold is reduced to 50 percent, the neural network will bring the catch. Or, as one of Tsvetkov’s acquaintances said, “Sasha was not the only candidate for the role of the killer, but he was considered promising because he lives in God-forsaken Borok. But they did not take into account that there is an institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences there, and they miscalculated.”
Relatives, friends and colleagues of Tsvetkov came to his defense and began to write letters to Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov, Chairman of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin, Human Rights Ombudsman in the Russian Federation Tatyana Moskalkova, Governor of the Yaroslavl Region Mikhail Evraev and President Vladimir Putin. The details of the Tsvetkov case are already being discussed by the media and Internet resources. This resonance allows us to hope that the UK will seriously deal with the Tsvetkov case. And if his defendant is not a serial killer, he will most likely be dropped from charges and he will be at home. But here another question arises: what about those for whom there is no one to stand up for?