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Tariel Oniani was born in 1952 in the mining town of Tkibuli. His father died in the mine. Tariel was first convicted of robbery and theft at the age of 17. In total, he has been to the colonies eight times. In the 80's he was considered to be the most authoritative "thief in law" in Moscow. He is the leader of the Kutaisi gang.
In the 90 Oniani moved to Paris and then, after several criminal cases had been filed against him in France — moved in Spain. He owns a large stake in the Georgian Airlines «Aerzena»." In Spain Oniani was involved the construction business.
In 2005, the Spanish police executed one of Europe's largest police operations "Wasp". More than 400 police officers, using armored vehicles and helicopters, carried out 50 raids in Barcelona, Alicante, and Marbella resorts, Fuengirola, Benalmdena and Torremolinos, where the objects of Oniani had been known. Oniani himself escaped, but the police arrested his 12-year-old daughter. Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov (nicknamed "Tayvanchik") said about the operation,"I would not say that he is a bad man - he is a businessman with good connections».
In April 2006 Oniani received Russian citizenship and settled in Moscow. In July 2008, police arrested 50 criminal authorities ( 39of which were "thieves in law") holding a meeting on the boat in Pirogovskoe reservoir. According to media reports, among those arrestedthere were the Georgian "thieves in law", the supporters of Oniani.
June 11, 2009 Oniani was detained and arrested on charges of kidnapping a businessman. Lawyers proposed 15 million rubles for the release of Oniani, but the court upheld his detention.
Media argued that in 2009 the group of Oniani confronted the supporters of the authoritative Russian businessman Aslan Usoyan nicknamed "Ded Hasan", Yezidis by nationality.
In the summer of 1994 in Antwerp, someone named Mikaeli Rafael, an Israeli citizen was arrested. He had a parcel with him that he was going to send to Paris. Oniani was listed the recipient. In that parcel the gendarmes found a fake Belgian passports, including the one for the name of Tariel Oniani, born in Tkibuli in 1952. Then Oniani came into notice. The French police learned a lot about his involvement in the smuggling of cigarettes and vodka, racketeering, grand larceny, trade of counterfeit documents, illegal shipments of petroleum products from Iraq, and others. They began monitoring his telephone conversations, from which the assumption of his involvement in the assassination of former Georgian Defense Minister Giorgi Karkarashvili appeared. In 1995 the French arrested Oniani on charges of attempting to smuggle drugs, but decided to release him on bail.
In 1998 in Vienna, the owner of the Georgian Airlines «Orby" David Sanikidze was killed - unknown shot him in the head. Among the arrested suspects there was Oniani' brother - George. And in the house of Sanikidze they found the French court ruling of 1995 to prosecute citizens of Georgia with Oniani listed there. Therefore, it is possible that Oniani was the organizer of the murder of Sanikidze, as one might have been putting together a dossier about him.
Soon Oniani moved to Spain.
A scandal associated with the name of Tariel burst in 2005, when the Spanish prosecutor's office put him to the international wanted list on suspicion of organizing a criminal group, money laundering and smuggling illegal immigrants into Europe from Georgia. According to the investigation, Oniani laundered criminal proceeds by investing them in real estate, besides, he was suspected of belonging to the "Russian mafia". To arrest him, the police conducted a massive operation "Wasp", actually one of the largest in Europe. There were more than 400 policemen involved, armored vehicles and helicopters, 50 locations were searched, where the offices of Oniani's companies were located, as well as the projects constructed by him. During the searches immigrants from Georgia without work permits in Spain were detained. Also there were 28 people arrested who had been involved in the creation of an illegal organized group and money laundering - all of those were founders and managers of construction companies building houses in the Mediterranean. But Oniani yet got disappeared.
A few months later in the United Arab Emirates, the Kurd Zahar Kalash was arrested, who was considered the head of the gang which included Oniani as well. Kalashov was accused of money laundering; one of the companies involved in his schemes was called LUKoil. And when they searched the house of Oniani in Barcelona (as part of Operation "Wasp") credit cards had been found, through which he and the Kalash transferred funds from Lukoil; as well as documents proving that Oniani owned shares in Lukoil. The company denied this information, but the rumors leaked about the connection with the "Russian mafia" prevented Lukoil from buying a large stake of Spanish oil company Repsol.
During the operation, the friend and assistant of Oniani - Besik Liparteliani - was also arrested;he had recruited 800 people from Svaneti to work in Spain. 12-year-old daughter of Oniani Gvantsa was placed in a private home for juveniles, which is essentially a prison for teenagers, expecting Oniani to come for her. The girl was released after the personal intercession of President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili.
In 2008 an alternative version of murder of the former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko appeared in the Ukrainian mass media; it was linked to Oniani, so-called "Georgian traces".
The Spanish police, who did not want dirty money investments in the country, asked Litvinenko for consultations in order to gain understanding of the situation in the Russian criminal community. After the operation "Wasp", which affected Oniani, there were rumors among the criminals about the alleged aid to Litvinenko. Litvinenko and Oniani first met in 2003, then Litvinenko began working in the commission of the Italian government at the invitation of his Italian friend Mario Skamarella.
After disappearing from Spain, Oniani appeared in Moscow, where he received Russian citizenship and residence. Perhaps he managed to convince the Russian special services that he could be useful to lobby the Georgian President Saakashvili.
It is known that in 2007 Oniani decided to organize a meeting between the disgraced tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, the de facto leader of the opposition, and one of the leaders of Georgian MIA Irakli Koduae - in the midst of confrontation between the opposition and the Georgian President Saakashvili. After it a recording appeared on Georgian television, on which there was Patarkatsishvili offering the general to overthrow Saakashvili. As a result, Patarkatsishvili was accused of involvement in anti-state conspiracy. Since then, Saakashvili accused Russia that it was giving citizenship to the enemies of Georgia.
At the end of 2005 being in London, Litvinenko started transferring information that to the Russian intelligence services were interested in. He planned to return to Moscow with the archive of the information collected. Ukrainian journalists assumed that Oniani could have been feared of Mr. Litvinenko' arrival to Moscow. His departure would not please the British secret service also; in that respect their interests with Oniani coincided. But it turned out to be just an assumption.
In June 2009 Oniani was arrested in Moscow; he lived there under the name Tariel Muluhov. He was detained in the Moscow suburb village of Gorky-2. He was charged for the abduction of Georgian businessman Johnny Mangaladze. Oniani appointed him a meeting near the Moscow restaurant "Golden Ring" to borrow money, which he asked to send by hand of Abutidze. When Mangaladze came, Abutidze invited him into his car. At that moment Oniani also came to them, and Mangaladze was moved into a minibus and taken to some apartment, where he was held to demand a ransom from his relatives. They managed to collect about half the amount named, and Mangaladze was released, but later they resumed their threats, and he appealed to the police. It was a criminal case under part 2 of article126 of the Criminal Code (abduction). As a preventive measure the court decided to take Oniani into custody.
The very fact of Oniani’s detention in custody was considered a favorable chance for reducing the conflict tension in between the clans of thieves.
As for the episode with Managadze, then, according to investigators, Oniani offered him protection. He refused because his business was legal. After that meeting the businessman was beaten, and his wife was demanded money. The main mistake Oniani made, according to the operatives, was his personal involvement in the crime.
In late 2009, the crime boss Vyacheslav Ivankov (Jap) died from assassination attempt. On July, 28 at the exit of the restaurant "Thai elephant" on the Khoroshevskoye highway he got a perforating wound of the abdominal cavity from a sniper rifle. He died a month later in the hospital. According to one of the versions, the attempt on Ivankov was associated with the conflict between the two criminal clans led by Oniani and Aslan Usoyanom (nicknamed Ded Hasan). Ivankov supported Usoyan.
Oniani and Ded Hasan had long been rivals for power in the thieves' world - Oniani did not want to obey the authority of the latter. For several years they had been fighting for the remains of the empire of Zakhary Kalashov, nicknamed Shakro Young; in 2006 he was arrested in Spain. Both the authorities, or rather their fellows wanted to gain his channels for money laundering: Lasha Rustavi from Hasan’s side and Merab Sukhumi from Oniani’s. Thus a mutual dislike appeared which spilled into a war «by the code of criminals”. First, they started exchanging threatening diplomatic notes. Merab Oniani and his supporters deprived Lasha of his thievish authority, and Lasha did the same thing. Jap took the side of Ded Hasan.
In summer 2008 Oniani held a convention on the boat in Pirogovskoe reservoir; Ded Hasan and Jap did not show up, but the Interior Ministry commandos did. More than 30 thieves had been detained; the majority was released, but some did get custody. Then Ded Hasan arranged "a run" in zones meaning the imprisoned supporters of Oniani were to have troubles. Oniani initiated retaliatory "runs", but most of the cons ignored them.
Allies to Oniani assumed that his arrest in Moscow occurred thanks to Ded Hasan, as the crime Oniani had got caught for, was too insignificant for him.
When Oniani was taken into custody in "Matrosskaya Tishina", Hasan circulated a note among the prisoners, which was signed by many of the criminal authorities; resolving into the message that Oniani was to be killed. The note was intercepted by law enforcement authorities, and voiced it live, after which all the inhabitants of the country's prisons learned its contents. Oniani is now contained in a special unit to protect him.
In March 2010 Russia expressed its readiness to extradite Oniani to the Spanish authorities which had been searching for him since 2005. The Federal Migration Service has learned that Oniani has never been a citizen of Russia. Most likely, first Oniani will stand the Russian court, and after that he will be transferred to Spain.
It is possible that in response to that Spain will extradite its citizen, former head of Yukos-controlled company “Fargoyl" Antonio Valdes-Garcia (he appeared in the case of Yukos).
At the end of March 2010 in France thief in law, supporter of Oniani, Vladimir Janashia was killed. According to investigators, Hasan’s people murdered him to revenge for the death of Jap. The French police assumed it basing on monitoring of telephone conversations of kingpin Kakha Shushanashvili (Kakha Rustavsky). Thus, it became known that the clan of Hasan (it was supportered by Rustavi) blamed Oniani and his closest associates Vladimir Janashia and Merab Jangveladze (Merab Sukhumi) for the murder of Jap.
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