Gangster Life Imitates Art: Russian Mafia Boss 'Stars' In Real-Life TV Crime Show
By Clarence Walker, Investigative Reporter & Crime Story Producer (Houston, Texas)
Forget The Sopranos....The Goodfellas.... The Godfather, and even Scarface. There's a new crime boss on the screen---and he's not a fictional character. This guy is the real thing. Vitali Dyomochka,34,a Russian gangster, is the first crime boss on the planet to 'star' in a real-life TV crime show. As the cameras rolls, Dyomochka, plays the real boss of a organize crime syndicate. He is a "true to the game" gangster that cannot be created by the imagination of Hollywood producers. Highly talented and dedicated to crime life, Dyomochka, exposes the'shocking' reality of the dark underworld.
Unimpressed with the popular, but "unrealistic mafia shows" including some movies, Dyomochkya, the boss of Russia's organize crime gang called 'Podstava' took matters into hand and created his own series, called "Spets". Spets is a series filmed around the area of Pacific port city of Vladivostok. The port is more than 5,700 miles and seven times zones east of Moscow. "We were tired of watching TV and movies about the mafia and organize crime that weren't real life", the Russian gangster, told journalists and Russian law enforcement".
Incredible as it may sound, but this vicious gangster films all of his crew's daily activities of extortion, blackmail, car thefts, loansharking, and shootouts with rival gangs. With a menacing look, sporting a shaved-head, this charismatic guy served time in prison for gunning down a rival. Serving as writer, producer and director, he stars as the crime boss in "Spets", with fellow mobsters from his criminal organization.
"There's a reason people want to fight an actor like Russell Crowe in a bar", Vitali commented.Why? "Because they know he won't kill them with a gun or sword". "That's the difference between us and the Hollywood people---no one can criticize our show, because it is our real life". "We know this life from the inside", Dyomochka told foreign reporters. "We just staged our lives on the screen". Ten members of the cast were arrested for crimes committed after production completed in 2003. Another member was murdered by rivals.
Opposition from police, initially, threaten to jeopardize the crime show debut, but it finally aired as a seven-part series on Ussuriysk T.V.
A spokesperson for Ussuriysk T.V. said the series divided viewers. "The audience were split. One camp thinks the show is immoral while others complained: "Whats the world coming to if the mafia is making a film about itself? T.V. spokesman further said, "Others think they are heroes".
"There was something of a moral dilemma when we first discussed the series, but the quality and strength of the plots and the acting won us over", Ussuriysk T.V. general director Ksenia Kerezhan said. "These are true stories portrayed in a dramatic way". High-drama of real mafiosos' carrying out crimes on the show has earned Spets a 100 percent rating---a major hit for Russian and Eastern Europe networks.
A female T.V. rep added, "the reaction is mostly positive", for two reasons: "The film is made here, it's ours. And second, it's real people".
Dyomochka spent personal money to fund the real-life drama but refused to divulge total cost to journalists, saying only, "the money was far from a Hollywood budget".
"Filming took awhile, the Podstava boss explains, because my colleagues had to balance their affairs and learn their lines". Many occasions the police escorted Dyomochka off the set for questioning.
Spets, the series, is named after Dyomochka's character. The high-drama involves members of his Podstava crew brutal fights with other crime gangsters for control of the extortion rackets and other illicit money-making operations in Ussuriysk. Ussuriysk is a small city where Dyomochka lives in Vladivostok. This area of Russia has a notorious reputation for organize crime.
Critics accuse the crime boss of trying to cash in on his criminal notoriety. Some believes for anyone to film criminal activities and air the real-life crimes needs to have their brains examined. Dyomochka rebuffs the critics. Claiming he's sane and have never made a 'kopek' from the show the gangster explains the mission. "Making the series,
Dyomochka says, was to show viewers, the truth how mafia criminals operate". Spets may be cruel and violent, but, Vitali says, "the program is redeemed by the fact everything is true to life. All of the scenes took place and the actors are themselves---the genuine perpetrators".
Most of the action in 'Spets' provides police with clues they tried to piece together during the original investigation of an episode portrayed on the show. The seven episodes that aired in 2004 depicted brutal murders, bloody fights with mafia rivals and unsimulated sex acts. In one scene, Vitali narrates the action. "Masked gunmen unload their clips into a car speeding down a rural highway". Riddled with bullets, the car careened off a bridge and explodes. "All the police found, he explained, was my freind's head. Now they know how it got there".
He's hoping that film-making become a source of legal income and to gain prestige for himself and fellow crew members in the entertainment business.
Vitali Dyomochka.... A Real-Life Russian Gangster
Recent investigative reports from the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the FBI, and International Organize crime bureau there are over 5000 organized crime groups operating in Russia. These groups averaged 100,ooo members with a leadership of 18,000.
Convicted of crimes ranging from extortions to shootings, crime boss, Vitali Dyomochka, known as 'Bondar' in the underworld served a total of six years in prison. Expelled from school and college, Vitali was an A-student. But crimes were more important. His crime career began when he extorted protection money from owners of clothing stores as capitalism boomed in the late Soviet era.
Released from prison in 1997, Vitali's (modus operandi)of committing crimes of organize nature he became the boss of the Podstava mafia crime group. Podstava members were involved with numerous money-making crimes, particularly vehicle accidents. They earned huge sums of money by using their vehicle to collide with other vehicles. In return, the gang demanded inflated sums for repairs from other drivers whom they blamed for the collision. Vitali favors two ways to get a nice car. First, he can frame it to appear you negligently collided with his car in traffic or sneak up on a driver while he's changing a tire; hop into the driver's seat and cruise off. Every act is about making money for the organization.
During one scheme, Vitali experienced 'de ja vu' when he tried to blackmail a judge. According to Russian authorities, the Podstava crew is a lucrative crime ring in Russia's far East. They steal imported japanese cars, change the serial numbers, and sell the vehicles on the black market.
"When you live with wolves", Vitali boasts, you howl like a wolf". As for the man he gunned down and served time in prison, the gangster found humor in the assault.
"I aimed at his heart, but I missed". In a freindly meeting at a club with the regional mafia boss(Thief of Law), the boss stood over Vitali with a 'shot glass' of liquor.
"This is a toast to a normal boy who found something to change his life", the boss announced, eyeing Vitali. We will help him".
"This show changed my life, the Podstava gangster, lamented". Hoping that film-making will make honest men of himself and freinds, Vitali stated:
"None of us has really changed our lifestyle yet,but I would rather work in films than to work in the criminal world, and this is my chance to do so". If 'Spets' becomes a major 'hit' series in the entertainment business in America---The Sopranos may finally have competition.
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