Gold Coast mur­der

Did the KGB or­der two frog­men to kill a for­mer op­er­a­tive hid­ing out on Aus­tralia’s favourite beach strip?

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

It’s the chill­ing cold case that con­tin­ues to baf­fle in­ves­ti­ga­tors 18 years af­ter two mys­tery as­sas­sins gunned down Gen­nadi Ber­novski in the drive­way of his Gold Coast man­sion.

With claims the for­mer high­level KGB of­fi­cer was killed by two frog­men (or scuba divers) who used the cover of dark­ness to am­bush him, the case files read like a spy thriller.

Now po­lice are hop­ing the re­cently posted $250,000 re­ward for clues to the killing will fi­nally pro­vide an­swers and bring the killers to jus­tice.

Gen­nadi had lived qui­etly on the Gold Coast since the mid-1990s when he and his wife Svet­lana fled from Rus­sia to build a new life on the famed tourist strip, which was about as far from Moscow as you can get.

The cou­ple set up a small­go­ods busi­ness and had a daugh­ter,g, Vic­to­ria,, who was just six years old when her fa­ther was killed.

Close friend of the de­ceased, , Gold Coast lawyer Kerry Salinger, says she had no idea he was “lethal”, but she knew he’d had a death threat the day be­fore he was killed.

Po­lice un­cov­ered an en­tire se­cret past to the 41-year-old “big man” and “lov­ing fa­ther and hus­band”, who gave friends and neigh­bours no hint as to his for­mer life with the Rus­sian spy agency.

“In the ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion, po­lice spoke to a lot of people in the Rus­sian com­mu­nity and their in­for­ma­tion was that he had been in­volved in the KGB,” De­tec­tive Sergeant Cameron Hard­ham told the ABC. “The in­for­ma­tion var­ied as to what level, but cer­tainly it ap­peared rel­a­tively high-rank­ing.”

And po­lice still sus­pect Gen­nadi’s death was the re­sult of a con­tract hit put out on the busi­ness­man,, al­thoughg there is now a new the­ory the “frog­men” may just have been as­sas­sins dressed in tight, dark cloth­ing and not divers.

Gen­nadi was tak­ing a bag of garbage out to the bin at the front of his Benowa Wa­ters home on July 24, 2000, when two men emerged from the dark­ness and shot him three times.

With bul­lets in his back, leg and but­tocks, he man­aged to crawl des­per­ately to the house, where he died in the arms of his dis­traught wife Svet­lana.

Po­lice dis­cov­ered Gen­nadi owed al­most $1 mil­lion to fel­low Rus­sian im­mi­grants af­ter a se­ries of failed busi­ness ven­tures, in­clud­ing a hefty sum to his busi­ness part­ner Oleg Kouzmine.

The for­mer elite spy also pos­sessed mul­ti­ple bank ac­counts, in Aus­tralia and Rus­sia, as well as Rus­sian and Kazakh pass­ports and mil­i­tary doc­u­ments from the Soviet era.

Ole­go­leg, who was also linked to the KGB, told po­lice Gen­nadi said he was a mafia boss, a common ca­reer path for for­mer KGB agents.

“He said he was head of the Rus­sian mafia in Yakutsk and Kalin­ingrad… he didn’t hide any­thing,” Oleg told po­lice.

His fin­ger­prints were found on the side gate at Gen­nadi’s home, but just weeks af­ter the killing he fled to Rus­sia, which has no ex­tra­di­tion treaty with Aus­tralia.

When ques­tioned at the time, Oleg’s then-wife Lud­milla claimed her hus­band was at home with her when his busi­ness part­ner was gunned down.

‘He said he was head of the Rus­sian mafia’

There’s also the pos­si­bil­ity Gen­nadi’s as­sas­si­na­tion was the first of sev­eral planned. One of his busi­ness partners, Michael Sh­nir­man, found a ter­ri­fy­ing note in his let­ter­box af­ter Gen­nadi’s fu­neral. It read: 1. Ber­novski 2. Sh­nir­man 3. Starikov There was a line drawn through the name Ber­novski.

Michael went into wit­ness pro­tec­tion, while the other man on the sus­pected hit list van­ished without a trace.

Gen­nadi was gunned down out­side his Gold Coast home in 2000.

Gen­nadi with friend Kerry (left) and wife Svet­lana (right).

Oleg fled to Rus­sia, where he was later im­pli­cated in an at­tempted mur­der. Armed frog­men are said to have ap­proached by wa­ter and shot Gen­nadi.

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