MOSCOW, May 7 (RIA Novosti) – A murder suspect linked to a slain Russian mafia overlord broke out of the Matrosskaya Tishina pretrial detention facility in eastern Moscow on Tuesday.
Oleg Topalov, 33, made a hole in the ceiling and escaped through an air vent, Federal Prison Service representatives told RIA Novosti.
Media reports said he had used a spoon to burrow through the ceiling – a task that would have taken him at least a week – and then walked across the premises, climbing over the outer wall using a rope made of bedsheets.
Topalov was sharing the cell with seven other inmates, but none of them chose to either follow him or raise the alarm, Komsomolskaya Pravda daily said.
City police were on full alert for Topalov, and a check had been opened into prison guards who may have been involved in the jailbreak.
The Sochi native was arrested in 2011 on murder charges. Police sources cited by Lifenews.ru tabloid claimed Topalov was a hitman working for Aslan “Gramps Khasan” Usoyan, a notorious “thief-in-law” – the Russian equivalent of a mafia don – who was killed in January in a shooting blamed on a turf war in the Russian underworld.
Matrosskaya Tishina, which opened in 1945, has hosted a number of prominent inmates, including former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who spent months here and was transferred to another facility shortly before his prison death in 2009.
Only two successful jailbreaks have previously been reported from Matrosskaya Tishina, both by alleged murderers. One of them was alleged mafia hitman Alexander Solonik in 1995, who was linked by media to the same Kurgan crime group as Topalov.