Documentary cinema

Yuriy Schekochikhin. There Once Was Me

Genre: A documentary film
Director: Yevgeniya Golovnya

Duration: Four episodes 26 minutes each

Schekochikhin, Yuriy Petrovich

· A journalist, human rights activist, politician and writer.
A former Supervisor of the Investigations Department and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Novaya Gazeta.
A Member of State Duma of the Russian Federation, the second and third convocations.
A former People’s Deputy of the USSR
A former Editor of the Investigations Department of Literaturnaya Gazeta.
He gained a wide acknowledgment by the publication of materials dedicated to the organized crime and corruption in power structures and law enforcement.
In June 2003 he suddenly fell sick and died soon (the official statement said it was an allergic syndrome).
In April 2008 a criminal case was initiated for murder in relation with Yu. Schekochikhins death.
In September 2008 Yu. Schekochikhins body was exhumed for a forensic investigation.
In April 2009 the criminal case for murder of Yu. Schekochikhin was closed for failure to find evidence of crime in his death.
In September 2010 the Investigations Committee resumed the criminal case to further investigate Yu. Schekochikhins death “in view of new evidence available and requiring conducting additional investigation procedures”.


According to informal information, Yu. Schekochikhin was poisoned by thallium or polonium.

Death and Investigation


He died as a result of a fast progressing disease on July 3, 2003. In two weeks he transformed into an old man, his hair fell out in bunches, the skin peeled off from the body, practically all of it, the organs ceased functioning one by one. According to the forensic report, the cause of death was a heavy intoxication manifested in the Lyells syndrome. Examinations in two laboratories revealed the contents of two pharmaceutical components (phenol and lidocaine), which are alien to a human body. A condition of concentration of diazonium compounds allowed to come to a clinical conclusion that lidocaine was used as a topical anesthetic in bronchoscopy and installation of the central catheter and phenol was discovered as a result of the protein decay in the terminal phase of the disease.


In October 2007, on insistence of Novaya Gazeta, the Investigations Committee at the Prosecutors Offce of the Russian Federation resumed the investigation of Yu. Schekochikhins death circumstances.


On October 30, 2007, lawyer L. I. Kalinichenko said in an Echo of Moscow radio broadcast: When we were burying him [Yuriy Schekochikhin] I stood not far from the coffin and Aslanbek Aslakhanov nearby me repeated several times: Yura was killed. At that moment, a high-ranking official of the Ministry of the Interior came up to us and said: Yura was poisoned with thallium.

In the beginning of April 2008 a spokesman of the Investigations Committee at the Prosecutors Office Department said that they planned to conduct a complex of forensic examination procedures, including some highly sophisticated procedures with participation of foreign specialists.



Yuriy Petrovich Schekochikhin was born on June 9, 1950 in a family of a military serviceman at Kirovobad, Azerbaijan S. S. R.

At seventeen Yu. Schekochikhin began to work as a journalist in Moskovskiy Komsomolets. In 1972 he got employment with Komsomolskaya Pravda where until 1980 he led Alyye Parusa section for senior school students.


In 1975, he completed a journalism course at Moscow State University named Lomonosov.

In 1980, Yu. Schekochikhin came to work as a special assignments reporter at Literaturnaya Gazeta and later he became an Editor of the Investigations Department of the same newspaper. He was a member of the newspapers editorial board until 1996.

In summer 1988, Yu. Schekochikhin published an interview with Aleksandr Gurov, police lieutenant colonel, titled The Lion Jumped. That was the first public statement that the organized crime existed in the USSR. The interview brought fame to Yu. Schekochikhin himself and to A. Gurov, who later became a Head of the 6th Department at Ministry of the Interior of the USSR. This Department was engaged in the fight with the organized crime.

In October 1989, Yu. Schekochikhin was elected a Peoples Deputy of the USSR by voters of Election Ward No. 413 (Luhansk Region, Ukrainian S. S. R.). He worked as a member of the Interregional Deputy Group. He was included in the Supreme Council of the USSR to deal with crime problems and was a member of the committee for privileges control. Yu. Schekochikhin was a proxy of A. Gurov, who in March 1990 was elected a Peoples Deputy of the R. S. F. S. R.

Yu. Schekochikhins permanent activity was journalist investigations. Since the beginning of 1995 he had been the author and anchor for the Spetsialnaya Brigada program at Ostankino Radio and Television.


In October 1995, the managing body of the TV channel decided to discontinue the program. The author said that the program was discontinued due to one show titled For Motherland! For Mafia! for it ran a statement that the Chechen war was initiated by leading banks of Russia.

In December 1995, Yu. Schekochikhin was elected a Member of State Duma of the Russian Federation by nomination of the Yabloko political fraction and he was admitted into the Yabloko. In February 1996, Yu. Schekochikhin became a member of the Parliamentary Committee for Security and in April 1997 he was included in the Commission for Investigation of Facts of Participation of Officials of the Government Offices and Administration Offices of the Russian Federation in Corruption Activities.


In July 1996, Yu. Schekochikhin took a position of the Assistant Editor-in-Chief - Editor of Department of Investigations of Novaya Gazeta – Ponedelnik weekly (formerly Novaya Yezhednevnaya Gazeta). In January 1997, he became the Assistant Editor-in-Chief Leading Editor of Novaya Gazeta. In March of the same year, Yu. Schekochikhin took positions of the Assistant Editor-in-Chief Executive Editor, and later, of the Assistant Editor-in-Chief and Supervisor of Department of Investigations of Novaya Gazeta.

In December 1999, Yu. Schekochikhin was again elected a Member of State Duma by nomination of the Yabloko and was readmitted in that parliamentary fraction. In Duma, he became a Deputy Chairman of the Committee for Security, while its Chairman became A. Gurov.


The latest Yu. Schekochikhins investigations were related to the corruption in the Attorney Generals Office of the Russian Federation. He dealt with the so called Three Whales case (furniture smuggling). This investigation was under the personal control of Vladimir Putin, then Russias President. According to some sources, Yu. Schekochikhin found that the matter was not limited by the furniture smuggling. Money laundering through the Bank of New York was also involved. In June 2003, he had a meeting with FBI representatives in Moscow, who invited him to New York for the purpose of handing him original documents on the money laundering.

Yu. Schekochikhin had his last business trip to Ryazan where he collected materials about police officials who had initiated criminal cases by orders of local authorities. On June 17, 2003 he phoned Dmitriy Muratov, Novaya Gazeta Editor-in-Chief, to tell him that he had a high fever and his skin was peeling off. Yu. Schekochikhin returned to Moscow the same day. He was admitted to the Central Clinical Hospital. As soon as his lungs and kidneys turned dysfunctional, doctors placed him under an induced sleep and exposed his peeling skin to bactericide lamps. The doctors failed to save his life. He died on July 3, 2003.


According to the official diagnosis and the cause of death description, Yu. Schekochikhin had the Lyells syndrome, a rare allergic disease, which hit his immune system and internal organs. Referring to the privacy rules of medical information release, the doctors refused to issue the diagnosis and the cause of death description even to his relatives. His close relatives and friends assumed that he was poisoned. The Kuntsevo Prosecutors Office, though, refused to initiate a criminal case for failure to find evidence.

In October 2007, it became public that in response to the request of the Novaya Gazeta staff, the Investigations Committee at the Attorney General Office of the Russian Federation initiated a new investigation of circumstances of Yu. Schekochikhins death. Some sources report that the investigation was started due to a similarity of disease symptoms of Yu. Schekochikhin and Aleksandr Litvinenko, the late FSB officer who died of the Polonium 210 radioactive poisoning.

In March 2008, the Investigations Committee at the Attorney General Office of the Russian Federation completed examination of Yu. Schekochikhins death circumstances. The Committee decided not to start a criminal case because his death circumstances were found to lack criminal evidence. However, just a few days later, spokesmen of the Investigations Committee officially announced about the re-opening of the criminal case on evidence accompanying Yu. Schekochikhins death. It was emphasized that the criminal case was initiated in accordance with Section 1, Article 105 of Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (for murder) as ordered by Aleksandr Bastrykin, Head of the Committee, who was not satisfied with the previous decision following the investigation.

In April 2009, the Investigations Committee terminated the case on evidence accompanying Yu. Schekochikhins death. The investigation team came to an opinion that Yu. Schekochikhin died of the disease that could not be induced artificially. Still, in September 2010 the Committee announced that due to the availability of new evidence the Investigations Committee resumed the investigation of facts accompanying the journalists death.

Yu. Schekochikhin wrote a few screen and theatrical plays dedicated to teenage problems (Trap No. 46, Size Two, Between Land and Sky). In the middle of 1990s he made a TV documentary Russian Mafia, co-produced with the Swedish television. In 1999, he wrote the book Slaves of State Security. 20th Century. Religion of Betrayal.

Yu. Schekochikhin was an expert on an organized crime at the United Nations. He was awarded with medals Protector of Free Russia and In Commemoration of 850th Anniversary of Moscow.

Yu. Schekochikhin is survived by his two sons, Konstantin and Dmitriy.


of documentary miniseries
Yuriy Schekochikhin. There Once Was Me…

In June 2010 he would have been 60. There once was me - and once I was in the country of wonders, once I missed to see Lenins image around, once I became famous, once I became a member of parliament, once I came to know it was impossible to crash the mafia these sketchy notes about his life Yuriy Schekochikhin left behind. Even when he became a Member of State Duma, he was hardly regarded as that imposing figure who should have been addressed to by his given and patronymic names Yuriy Petrovich. A brilliant journalist, a writer, he made an impression of a Singing Blackbird from an Otar Iosselianis movie. Always a little unkempt hair, a little stuttering, always in haste, he valued friendship more than anything, he was an adventurous kid and was enthusiastic about singing with a guitar. It was the period of life when everything was taken for granted and a feeling that nobody would grow old and die.

He made his destiny himself. Yet, in his childhood. He had no idea what occupation he would take, but it certainly had to be in the Decembrists way. He was born on June 9, 1950, in Kirovobad, USSR. There is neither this city nor this country existing any more by those names. It is now the city of Ganja in Azerbaijan. Before school, he lived with his aunt in a Tambov Region village. He used to call her mother. When the school time came, his parents took him to Moscow. It was at that time when he did his first Decembrists act: with no ticket and money he fled back to his aunt into the village.

The parents power prevailed and he was returned to Moscow. He lived in Ochakovo, in a two-storey building constructed by German prisoners of war. There were the famous beer brewery and a construction concrete plant around. The area was known to be criminally unsafe and street adventures lured him out. Boys around treated him condescendingly due to his low height and avoided taking him in to their operations. Strongly believing in justice, and stuttering even more, he adamantly fought for his right to participate in the operations.

nce, when he was 14, he brought his short story about the street life to Moskovskiy Komsomolets and it was approved for publication at once. That was when he felt he wanted to be a journalist. He never forgot his Decembrists spirit, though.

Once, he simply left his parents home for good. He lived with friends, he got education in Moscow intelligentsia kitchens and newspapers editorial smoking rooms.

nce, he created his life and destiny, believing that he was supposed to die young in the fight for justice. It was like in Shpalikovs verses, screen writers and poets: I either will drown in Severnaya Dvina or die otherwise He searched for and investigated situations, in which other journalists were afraid to get involved. He threw light on painful problems, he looked for resolutions and exposed culprits. His Gods gift of communicability helped him to infiltrate into sanctum sanctorums, where he was able to retrieve information which other people could not. His smile, open direct eyes and a Lets talk face expression made contacts virtually with everyone. When someone was together with him, he or she too was inflamed with an idea to find truth. People were busy looking for Literaturnaya Gazeta to buy and read. People wrote letters to the newspaper and suggested fields of further investigations. It really was a time of Decembrists with a team of Nelli Loginova, Arkadiy Vaksberg, Yuriy Rost and Leonid Zhukhovitskiy, - with whom he was ready to change the world for the better.

Once he met the Kvantrishvili brothers. He read a criminal file of underworld leaders, in which, to his surprise, he found the name of Amiran Kvantrishvili as a member of the Russias Union of Literary Writers! When Amiran was asked what topics of his plays were, this writer said: I dont remember... Something about youth problems. After some daring Schekochikhins publications, he came up to Yuriy Schekochikhin on an Easter day at the Nezhdanov Church: Remember, we are stronger anyway, and added: May name is Amiran. Some days later, on the Izmaylovo Hotel Complex opening event a man approached Yu. Schekochikhin. His face could often be seen on TV screens those days. He spread his arms as if in an embrace and asked: Are you still a friend of Gurov? (A. Gurov was the Head of Department for Fight with Organized Crime those years).

Well, yes, said Yuriy, a little confused.

Then tell Aleksandr Ivanovich [Gurov], that the Izmaylovo is under the mafia control. It was Otari Kvantrishvili, Amirans elder brother.

Yu. Schekochikhin published a series of articles in Literaturnaya Gazeta about Chechen groups in Moscow. Yuriy was not afraid of tough henchmen who would be sent for the investigation, armed with hot irons and soldering tools. They were entering the political circles as a party of sportsmen. Their final destination, though, was the Vagankovo Cemetery, ironically, near Vladimir Vysotskiys grave. That was the time when the mafia came up too close to the Kremlin.

nce he came to war for the first time. Later, he revisited the war frequently. His first Literaturnaya Gazeta publication about the war was titled: For Motherland! For Mafia!. Ten days later, after Boris Yeltsin announced that the first stage of the military operation had been completed and police forces replaced the army, a real full-scale war is still raging in Groznyy. Untrained boys are fighting in this war and it is possible that all this story with the independent Chechnya has been invented in order to make money on oil, weapons, gold

nce he was a hostage Once he delivered a speech at the US Congress and felt himself as though his life was publicly studied under the magnifying glass Once he discovered 5 million dollars which belonged to the Orekhovo criminal group. What did prosecutors do with these proceeds? Nothing. The case of Three Whales was much more dangerous. Yuriys sons lives were at risk. A bodyguard was assigned to Yuriy. It was a huge man who followed Yuriy, every step. Yuriy laughed like a kid: he had someone to have beer with, 24 hours!

Well, to be serious, he understood that besides Three Whales there was also the Fourth Whale. He also came to know that it was impossible to crash the mafia. It could only be slowed down. The sensational publication The Lion Jumped uncovered crimes of Adamov and his group. Corruption turned out to be one of component topics in his story. Being a member of the parliament was a necessary and efficient weapon for him in his cruel fight with the clandestine mafia figures.

Once, a black car with toned glasses turned to his home in Peredelkino. Yu. Schekochikhin gave a comment to his guest Sasha Gorodnitskiy: They are coming to see me. To award or to kill...

nce, he was killed. In fact, they tried to convince everyone that he just died of natural causes. He rapidly, in two days, degraded and died of the vitamins deficiency or may be of the heart failure. One old prosecutor, who had been involved in the Uzbek case investigation together with Yuriy, said: I see all signs of poisoning with heavy metals.

Yu. Schekochikhin left behind one undiscovered secret or, in fact, many secrets, not only in his death circumstances, investigation of which is still incomplete, not only in texts, which were like bomb blasts to the society and really called for changes, not only in the choice of topics and characters, but also a magnificent secret of his love of people.

He kept a naïve faith in people and in ideal love.

He was deceived and he forgave, in his torments, still believing in the ideal human.

He did not like solitude, he did not like staying at home alone. There always were friends, acquaintances and less known to him people staying with him.

He was writing, brewing coffee, sleeping on his sofa, and tuning his guitar.

His life style was absolutely harmful. He despised a normal day schedule. He enjoyed spending sprees. No savings were found after his death. He probably was the only member of parliament who left no savings.

He did not believe that bribes kept exchanging hands behind his back. And he believed that one man was capable of changing the system.

He believed that CPSU would change as soon as honest people and his friends join the party. He believed in his friends so much. He called them brothers.

He believed flatterers, especially in his last years. He helped many people. His friends were sure that if one called he would come to the rescue in any situation, even to friends of friends.

His home was ALWAYS full of people.

And once, after he had gone, after the solemn speeches and recollections gone silent, there was an air of oblivion growing around People still gather on June 9, his birthday, to have a glass of vodka in his remembrance. They still say good words But his team is no longer there. Everyone lives alone without him

Our film is a biography of the journalist, writer, political activist, who dedicated his life to the fight for justice. He loved people, life and dreamed about the future he thought his nation deserved. His life began in the middle of the 20th century and terminated in the beginning of the 21st century. A short bright life We are far from the idea to present this life as a life of a modern Don Quixote who attempted to fight windmills

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