Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Notorious USSR gangsters - Yakov Kuznetsov

Yakov was born in 1890 into a convict family and started stealing as a child. By age 27, he had 10 indictments to his name as a pickpocket. Yakov Kuznetsov was just another Moscow gangster of the 1910s, but he earned instant notoriety after robbing Vladimir Lenin himself – although he didn’t realize it at the time. His nickname “Koshel’kov” meant “man of purses.” On January 6, 1919, he and five associates stopped a Rolls Royce in Moscow – the bandits needed a ride for a robbery. It happened to be Lenin’s car.
The uniformed bandits ordered the passengers out of the car and searched them. “What’s going on? I am Lenin!” – Vladimir Ilyich exclaimed, but Koshel’kov misheard his name. “You may be Levin all you want, and I’m Koshel’kov, the boss of this city at night.” Only after examining documents did he realize his grave error. When he was cornered in July 1919, agents took no chances and Koshel’kov was riddled with bullets. Lenin’s Browning automatic was found on his body.