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Sep-24-2009 15:37printcomments

Salem as a Symbol of Criminality in Crimea

Simferopol, Ukraine is Salem, Oregon's sister city, and in the years after the fall of Communism, it was a wild and dangerous place.

Simferopol, Ukraine
Photos courtesy: Oleg Shirokov

(SEMFEROPOL, Ukraine) - Probably, the inhabitants of Salem, Oregon will be surprised, knowing, that the name of their city for inhabitants of Simferopol and all of Crimea shows something connected with the organized criminality.

This history began at the end of late 1980's, when Simferopol signed an agreement with the Salem, Oregon for establishment of communications that would allow the two cities to be sister-cities.

Then it was a 'Salem Cafe', in the center of Simferopol, which was popular among new gangsters who appeared in these times of wild capitalism and cooperative store appearing afterwards.

Simferopol was divided between two groups Bashmaki (“Shoes”) and “Salem”. Some people, by mistake, considered that the last name is related to the name of popular cigarettes.

The known gangsters: Zhiraf (“Giraffe”), Vishnya (“Cherry”), Ponomar, were going in this cooperative store. The prolonged fight began between competitors led to 30 persons being killed, in just during one month of 1991.

Eugeny Khavich managed temporally to stop this fight, but also he was soon shot. To the middle of 90's years in Salem there were 1200 fighters.

Simferopol, Ukraine images by Oleg Shirokov

In 1995 many of them decided to come to policy and 44 gangsters become local deputies. They wanted to get deputy inviolability.

In 1996 the war climaxed. Two deputies were killed, in Simferopol there were a lot of explosions of the Salem.

Both groups were liquidated afterwards, but the echo of those events still exist, the reports about the arrest of remaining members of band appear.

It is interesting, that the local press badly understands geography of the USA and mixes up the different Salems.

The known Russian site decided that city-sister of Simferopol – the Salem from Oregon, is known by the criminal groups.

A Crimean newspaper, the First Crimean decided that sister-town of capital of Crimea – Salem from Massachusetts, known by the "witch hunts".

In 2008 war arrested representative of Salem Sergey Kryuk (Hook).. Former criminal authority during detention had the passport of citizen of the USA, lately constantly lived in Los Angeles.

This year appeared a report of Russian edition New region, they consider that as a result of new elections, power in Crimea can be taken again by the representatives of Salem.


Oleg Shirokov lives in the historic Russian Federation city of Simferopol, Ukraine, which is the capitol of Crimea and quite interestingly, one of Salem, Oregon's four Sister Cities. We look forward to sharing more of his reports from a very distant, artful and romantic part of the world.

Before reporting news, Oleg work as the translator for 15 years, gaining valuable experience in specialized areas such as software localization, hardware, telecommunications and technical marketing. He also worked as the programmer for 8 years, and serves clients as a translator.

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