There is “a story”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1723216,00.html in yesterday’s _Guardian_ that would be incredible were it not for the video evidence. Vladislav Chebayev, a gangster in Samara, 600 miles south-east of Moscow, needed to silence a witness whom he had earlier beaten so badly that his spleen was damaged.
Three days before he was to go on trial for this opffence, he had the victim, Roman Bespalov, kidnapped, bundled into a car, and driven to a clearing in the forest. On the ground were two men, their heads bound up in rags, and resting on a log. Around them stood gang members, in camouflage fatuges and balaclavas. The only man he recognised was Chabayev’s nephew, Vladimir Kalyadentsev who was holding an axe. Another gang member was videotaping the whole scene. This was on April 31st 2005, at the beginning of spring.
Kalyadentsev told Bespalov to watch closely, or he would be killed. Then he took the axe, and with three blows struck off the head of one of the men on the log. They were Uzbek migrant labourers. To this day, no one knows more about them than their surnames. Bespalov was then told to smile for the camera and chop the other Uzbek’s head off, all on tape. This he did. Then he was told that the tape would be handed over to the police if he gave evidence at the trial, taken back, still blindfolded back to a bus stop, and left there.
He did go straight to the police, and they found the bodies sixteen days later.
The tape was then handed in to the local TV station. At this point the story becomes almost wholly surreal. A woman on the newsdesk watched it, and thought it was some kind of trailer for a a horror film. then she realised it was a real snuff movie, and rushed off to the lavatory to be sick. After that, the station broadcast it. Then they did it again, last week, as the trial of Kalyadentsev started, with a warning beforehand for children not to look. I think that Dostoevsky could have imagined all of this, except, perhaps, for one question: which companies advertised what products around this piece of water cooler television?