Russian gang boss wanted since 1990s arrested in Thailand

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 10:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 6:25pm


A Russian crime boss who led a gang blamed for the murder of about 60 people during the lawless period following the fall of the Soviet Union has been captured in Thailand.

Alexander Matusov, who arrived in Thailand in 2009, was paraded in front of the media two days after he was detained by Thai police on Monday south of Bangkok.

At the time of his arrest, the burly 52-year-old was in possession of a false passport and had acquired a retirement visa, according to immigration officials.

Russia slipped into chaos as its communist system collapsed at the start of the 1990s. Kidnappings and execution-style killings were rife as rival groups competed over business interests.

"The gang kidnapped businessmen and civil servants for ransom," Thai immigration officials said. "The gang was involved in murdering more than 60 people in Moscow, Dagestan and St Petersburg," the statement said, adding that Matusov would be sent to Russia for trial.

The gang operated from the mid-1990s until 2008, becoming the "most dangerous gang in Russia", Russian embassy vice-consul Alexey Falunin said.

"Matusov was the leader of this group," Falunin said, adding he was the only gang member to escape the country.

The Russian authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Matusov over the murder of four members of a rival gang in 1996.

He first entered Thailand in 2009 and left before returning on a fake Armenian passport.

Thailand's deputy national police chief, Wuthi Liptapallop, said the case had cast light on foreigners living in Thailand on retirement visas.