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25 Mar, 2012 14:26

Sheksna redemption: Russian killer’s Hollywood-style jailbreak (VIDEO)

Booking an MI-2 helicopter by a call from prison, getting a girlfriend and a sidekick to draw guns on pilots, climbing onboard by a rope. A new blockbuster plot? Nope – just a runaway from a prison colony near a Russian village, video now available.

The whole of Russia was shocked by a daring escape performed on Thursday by a 36-year-old, sentenced to 24 years for two murders. But as more striking details began to emerge, no one was sure anymore if they were reading a synopsis for a new action movie or if it could really be a piece of news from a prison near the small Russian village of Sheksna in central Russia’s Vologda Region.Aleksey Shestakov had served almost half of his term – 10 years – when he managed to get out. Not for long though, as he was soon caught.

‘Can I book a MI-2, please? No, MI-8 is too big’

Shestakov confessed that he himself organized his escape. Can one just make a call – from a penal colony for dangerous special offenders, you will recall – and book an MI-2 helicopter, say, for two days and then further for a week? Yes, he can. At least, Shestakov succeeded in this when he called on the mobile phone to the Vologda Air company while staying in colony number 17, Vologda Region. He told the investigators he considered an MI-8 “too big” for his needs. He paid the hire fee, but it is not yet known where he got the money. Earlier it was reported that some businessman had ordered a helicopter “for a high-ranking delegation.” The money, indeed, did not seem to be a problem for Shestakov, as he promised as much as 2 million rubles (over US$68.000) to his accomplices. Aleksandr Rusakov, also 36 (earlier tried for robbery), and Tatyana Vazhalina, 35 (earlier tried for drug dealing), were also detained by police. It is still unclear what relations were between the three collaborators, but Vazhalina is likely to have been Shestakov’s pen friend. Vazhalina later confessed to investigators that it was she who worked out the plan of the escape. The escapee also called those two on the phone, using no fewer than six different numbers, investigators say. The two accomplices were detained near the Dikaya railway station in the region on Friday evening as police officers spotted a couple who fitted the suspects’ description. Air maps, food and personal belongings were found in their rucksacks.

How it was: Early morning escape

Early on Thursday an MI-2 arrived at a nearby recreation facility. Shestakov had even employed someone to clear the helipad of snow. As it was impossible to get to the prison territory with weapons, the convict wanted his accomplices to fly after him from the recreation camp. Threatening the pilots with guns, the man and woman ordered them to head towards the village of Sheksna. With the helicopter flying low above the prison, they threw out a rope with a piece of wood on the end. After Shestakov got hold of the wood, the helicopter landed not far away so that they could pull him inside. Finally, they landed near the highway where the three daring passengers separated and fled.

No happy ending for inventive killer

Shestakov was caught several hours later when traveling as passenger in a Nissan Almera (well, what else could a Hollywood character do after escaping but stop a car and try to get away using an unwitting driver?). The arrest was no boring scene either, as the convict threatened the police with blowing up the car when they stopped it to check the driver’s documents. He moved to the driver’s seat and tried to get away, but police officers opened fire at the wheels. Even after that he would not give up, trying to run away and shooting his gun at the officers, but he was wounded in the flank.A criminal case over air transport hijacking and escape from imprisonment were launched. It was reported that the investigators do not rule out prosecuting prison staff if they find those who allowed all the violations that led to Shestakov’s escape. A local law enforcement official said that the guards at the prison’s watch-towers were shooting at the criminal as he swung on the rope beneath the helicopter, but missed.