Pensioners snared in police sting after ordering local man to kill third babushka who they accused of 'sorcery'.
Retired butcher Lyudmila Vitchenko, 72, ordered the killing of a 'healer'. Picture: Investigative committee in Altai region
Retired butcher Lyudmila Vitchenko, 72, and Anastasiya Kolbaskova, 81, face up to 20 years in jail after confessing they ordered the killing of Nadezhda Aksinina, 70, a woman who claims to be a 'healer'.
They claimed instead that she was a 'witch' and that she had cast spells on Vitchenko. The killer they hired - after agreeing to pay between 10,000 and 15,000 roubles ($150 - $230) - immediately informed police. He then assisted police to film Vitchenko as she handed over a knife to the hitman to be used in the killing in Aleisk, a town in Altai region.
Police then staged Aksinina's murder, during which pictures were taken using tomato ketchup as blood, images which were used to fool the grannies into thinking the killing had been committed. Police then filmed one of the grannies handing over cash to the hired assassin, before arresting the pair.
At the very first meeting on 14 August, Vitchenko told the 'killer': 'You must do it quickly, before this weekend, so she does not get to church.' She ordered him: 'Stab her from the back, right into her heart, so she is killed at once. Do it quickly and tell me right afterwards.'
'Stab her from the back, right into her heart, so she is killed at once. Do it quickly and tell me right afterwards.' Pictures: Investigative committee in Altai region
She asks him: 'So it is 15,000 roubles, right? I will pay you 3,000 now and the rest later. I will borrow 7,000 from my nephew, and will pay 5,000 from my next pension.' In a chilling phrase, she added: 'I could do it myself but she knows me. I've worked at a meat factory for 20 years. I can cut a man into pieces, and open a stomach.'
Later after being snared by police, she confessed that she and Kolbaskova had 'agreed to get rid of' the other woman. 'I suggesed Kolbaskova should find a killer. She said: 'Okay, I will have a look. Then she gave me a call, saying she found one, And I agreed it with him, that was all.'
She told police that Aksinina had cast a spell so her joints in her arms and legs were stiff, preventing her from walking and sleeping properly. 'We had to do it quickly. I could not bear it any longer. I could hardly feel my arms and legs, I can't sleep at nights.'
Anastasiya Kolbaskova, 81, promised to find a killer. Picture: Oleg Ukladov/Komsomolskaya Pravda
Asked by her police interrogator what had to be done quickly, she replied: 'To get rid of her, to kill her.'
Kolbaskova said: 'I often visited Lyudmila. In the evenings her entire body was aching and burning, she could not feel her arms and legs. It was because of that sorcery, so I helped her.' Kolbaskova also claimed to be a 'healer' although neighbours said she was a 'fraudster'.
Vitchenko had been to see Aksinina earlier, asking for help in curing the pains in her arms and legs, said police. Kolbaskova said: 'Lyudmila and Nadezhda quarrelled one day and Nadezhda inflicted sorcery on her. Who else could do it? She also used her sorcery to put lice on me.'
Vitchenko confessed during her police interrogation: 'Kolbaskova and I agreed to get rid of Aksinina. I asked her to find a killer. 'She found the one and agreed it with him. He is a good boy, a nice one. I promised to pay him from my next pension. Tasya (Kolbaskova) said that she would pay half of it.'
Maxim Kiryushkin, from Investigative Committee in charge of the criminal investigation, said the pensioners have carefully planned the murder. 'They fixed a meeting with the killer where they passed him 3,000 roubles and a knife,' he said. 'They asked to stab Aksinina into her heart or to cut off her head.'
Police immediately informed Aksinina's relatives of the threat to the pensioner. Her daughter Marina said: 'I was shocked. I quietly took my mother away and she is staying with me now.'
I've worked at a meat factory for 20 years. I can cut a man into pieces, and open a stomach.' Pictures: Investigative committee in Altai region
A court decision not to hold the two grannies in detention - despite their confessions - is to be challenged by Aksinina's relatives. Vitchenko is still looking for a killer, she claimed.
This was supported by the investigator who said during her confession, Vitchenko had said: 'If only could I meet Aksinina now, I would have killed her straightaway.'
Marina added: 'I do not deny that my mum is a Znakharka (a folk healer) but it is not a reason to kill a human being.'
Kiryushkin said: 'The elderly women are suspected in committing crimes described in articles of Russian Crime Code 'Organising a contract killing' and 'Aiding in organizing a contract killing'.
'According to the investigation, the 72 year old suspect, having hostile attitude to a 70 year old local citizen, decided to organise her murder. She did not want to commit it herself, so the suspect started looking for a potential killer.
'She has turned to her 81 year old friend asking to find the right person, the woman agreed and offered her friend - a local man - to commit a murder for 15,000 roubles.'
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