International Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics • Volume 20(2), Copyright 2023 by IFSW
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Editor’s Note: Following is part two of an anonymous commentary written by a friend of our journal. Part one can be found at https://doi.org/10.55521/10-020-102. Anonymity is required as a safeguard for this person. Because of the political situation, it is not safe to include any names or gender identification. The author is a professor of human services in Russia but is Ukrainian. The person’s family lives in Kiev and it is an emotionally troubling time for all of them. This letter has not been copy edited and is a translation from Russian by the use of Google translator.
Two years later, after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, in 1988 I graduated from high school and in the summer, in July, I arrived in Kyiv. Angelina and I again sat on the banks of the Dnieper, on a rocky wild beach. Obolon (one of the most beautiful districts of the city of Kyiv) was flooded with sunlight and warmth, happy smiling people walked along the clean spacious streets, there was a clear blue sky above us. It was a sweltering July heat. Sunbeams, reflected in the water, sparkled in the sun. In the clear clean water of the Dnieper, near the shore, right above the small algae, small coastal fish swam. At first we wanted to swim, but when we got to the shore, we decided to just sit on the rocks and get our feet wet. We have been waiting for a meeting with each other for a whole year, writing letters to each other in which we expressed our feelings and desire to meet each other as soon as possible. And now, finally, we were sitting together on a coastal rocky area, on a wild beach on the banks of the Dnieper, holding hands, looking at each other, talking excitedly about everything that happened during the time we were not together.
I told Angelina that after finishing school I wanted to go to law school to become a lawyer, serve in law enforcement and fight crime. But in the USSR, school graduates, before entering higher educational institutions, had to work for 2 years at any enterprise, preferably close in work activity to the education they wanted to receive, or serve in the Soviet army. It was such a kind of help from young people to their state, to people of middle and old age, because the taxes that were deducted from the wages of young workers were used to pay pensions, build good roads, housing stock, apartments from which were distributed free of charge to all those in need. There were no homeless and hungry people in the USSR, and young healthy guys and girls who graduated from high school took on part of this social care. But I decided to go to serve in the Soviet army. The term of service was 2 years, and after it I would just be able to enter my law school. I always dreamed of military service and was very glad that such an opportunity turned up for me.
My dad dreamed of having a boy, but God gave me to him, and from childhood I was brought up as a warrior. I knew martial arts, I knew how to shoot perfectly, in the USSR, at the lessons of the NVP (initial military training), they taught me to throw anti-tank grenades, handle a Kalashnikov assault rifle, taught me to march, explained the basics of military discipline and tactics. After good results in shooting at a shooting range, which was also in almost every school in the USSR, I was invited to the DOSAAF shooting club (a voluntary society for the assistance of the army, aviation and navy), and I began to participate in shooting competitions. In all the competitions in which my team and I took part, we won prizes.
Gradually, the weapon for me became something ordinary, normal, something without which I did not spend a single day. Here it is necessary to deviate a little from the context and explain that due to certain events in childhood, children in our yards, in the village where I grew up, walked with knives. Everyone knew about it, it was normal, we played “knives” in children’s sandboxes, and when we grew up a little, these games migrated to wastelands remote from residential buildings. Almost all children and teenagers in our village carried knives for self-defense. Our fathers gave us knives for our birthdays, and we proudly showed them to each other when we came to play “knives”. So such games were the absolute norm in my childhood, which is simply unimaginable these days. And we, children born in the USSR, could easily stop a tired worker going home after a work shift and ask him to sharpen a dull knife on the protruding basement of a brick house. Literally, it looked like this: a child, both a boy and a girl, could run up to any man walking home from work in the evening, put his knife in his hands and ask – “Uncle, uncle, sharpen the knife, please!” – and no one refused. A wave of rape of children aged 5-10 years swept through our village, which, most likely, provoked such a tolerant attitude towards edged weapons, as well as the fact that children learned to use them, and, of course, left a vivid imprint in my childhood memory. This shaped my motivation to confront sexual crimes, including those against children. Therefore, I connected my further life with this profession.
So, we were sitting in July 1988 on the banks of the Dnieper, and I told Angelina that I would go to serve in the army. And she shared with me that she is graduating from college and will work in the financial field. Together we visited her college and the base of her practice, one of the stores in the city of Kyiv where she worked, and I met some of her fellow students. One girl behaved very aggressively with both me and Angelina. I showed her with my appearance that if she continues in the same spirit, she will deal with me, and then she will have problems. And the girl left. I did not understand then why some teenagers behave like that, because we lived together, a single Soviet family, and did not know what happened in the past of the Ukrainian people. Many years later, I learned about the Holodomor, Lenin’s communist agenda in relation to Ukraine, collaborators who met fascist thugs with bread and salt during the Great Patriotic War, and how they were executed after the liberation of Kiev from fascist invaders, and much more that politicians usually taken out of their “bins” and placed on the scales of Anubis, anticipating his funeral rituals, inevitable as a result of their unleashing wars and enmity.
At that time, the reaction of this aggressive girl to me, who came from the Russian outback, seemed inadequate. But now, given the recent events that have taken place between Russia and Ukraine, I would understand her. It is possible that someone in her family once suffered from the Bolshevik invasion of Ukraine and some kind of terrible story was passed down from generation to generation. Or maybe it was simple teenage stupidity – who knows, teenagers are often not restrained, right? In any case, there are people who live only in the past, and there are those who are purposefully taught this. Both are easy to manipulate. Both those and others inadequately perceive reality, and this is a very sad story. After all, all bad things come to an end, in any case, ahead is a peaceful calm future, new achievements, cities, countries, acquaintances, new adventures, new sunsets and sunrises, a fresh breeze! But no, their “train” will go to a dead end, and, moreover, backing back there. And everyone who needs to go ahead will either have to leave it forever and get on their own, or reconcile themselves and be trapped!
I mean that this Ukrainian girl and I could become friends, but from an early age she was forced to imagine those who live in Russia as someone who personifies evil, and this was a fatal mistake, because I lived in Russia, but did not represent any evil. I loved Ukraine very much, I loved Kyiv, the Ukrainian people with all my heart. I have always admired my Ukrainian family and, embracing with my mind and heart all their talents: hospitality, solidarity, kindness, mercy, love, spirituality, I realized that Russia lacked this. For example, we did not know our cousins and sisters living in Russia. Some we met, others we lost touch with. There was no such thing in the Ukrainian family! When my dad and I came to Kiev, at the same time, our distant relatives from Vinnitsa and Lvov came to visit Angelina, Bogdan, their mom and dad, while he was still living with them, before the divorce. Other relatives who also lived in Kyiv came to see us. Aunt Tanya gathered a big feast, everyone gathered at the same table, celebrated, had fun, sang songs, played the guitar and piano, walked around Kiev, rode a boat along the Dnieper and so on. In Russia, we also sometimes got together with relatives for some significant events, but it was not so festive and large-scale. Therefore, how could you think such a thing about me, supposedly I hated my family and Ukraine? Only a very downtrodden and ignorant person could argue like that, who was intimidated by the fact that only bad things can come from Russia! But it’s not!
That summer, Angelina and I spent a wonderful month: we went to the beaches of Obolon, sunbathed, swam, walked around Kiev at night, rode the subway, on a boat along the Dnieper, even got to a concert at the Kiev Operetta Theater. We saw Kyiv in the summer of 1988 in the rain, under the hot July sun, in fog and in the rays of the morning dawn; old and young; mysterious religious and perky, with open-air concerts that regularly took place on Khreshchatyk. Kyiv is always so different! If you ever have the opportunity to visit this city – do it, I ask you, do not dare to deprive your spirituality, you must be enriched by this heritage of human civilization.
At the end of July, I went home to the Tambov region. I was called to the military office. Well, my dream came true – I took the oath and I was officially awarded a military ID. I walked proudly from the military registration and enlistment office along the main street of my city, anticipating an interesting, rich life that lay ahead. In 2 years I will enter my law school, become a detective, and I will solve dangerous and terrible crimes … Naive, right? But it is precisely this immediacy that pushes young people to active life, inspires, gives hope and helps to live on, despite the severe trials that fall to the lot of each of us. It happened to me as well. My life has not been an easy, happy stroll through the sun-drenched Emerald City. But all the trials that fell to my lot only strengthened my faith and gave me strength in the fight against evil. Let me explain.
I was assigned to a military unit of the VVS (air force), which served a strategic military airfield. For a military position as a mechanic-radio telegraph operator of high-power shortwave radio stations. We were taught the speed of receiving / transmitting Morse code on a telegraph key and a code sensor. The telegraph key was designed to manually respond to received encrypted messages. And with the help of a sensor, which was like a typewriter, it was possible to transmit a large amount of encrypted codes in a very short period of time. The point was that even if the codes were copied and written down, they could not be decoded at high speed, since you would receive crickets chirping in a language you did not know when you received them. Even if you slow down the code transmitted by the sensor on the recording, somehow change the playback speed of the received auditory information, then to decipher it you will have to write down each letter from the code, singing it in Russian.
Moreover, these tunes can be as different as the Russian language is rich, and the one who will decipher this code must hear these words from childhood, know them and be able to replace them with similar ones in terms of stress and pronunciation. In addition, if at high reception speed you cannot distinguish between dots and dashes of short pauses (between codes), then all this cacophony will merge into a single trill. In general, in order to decipher the Russian code, your radio operator must be either ethnically Russian, which is preferable, or a representative of another ethnic group who grew up in a Russian-speaking environment. But that is not all. After you decipher each letter of the code, consisting of 3-4 letters, you will get a confusion from a combination of symbols that you do not understand, which are a collection of Cyrillic characters. Well, for example, as in Fig. 1:
And now, after deciphering the code, the most interesting thing comes you cannot know what exactly the combination of these letters means. For further decoding, you will need a radiotelegraph operator who knows what is hidden under these combinations of three Cyrillic letters. Oh, yes, I forgot to write that this radiotelegraph operator must be from the military unit whose code you want to decipher. Why? Yes, because in each military unit the combination of Cyrillic letters in the codes is different. And there is no single universal key that would give you the opportunity to use the once opened and decrypted code for all military units. So, if you wanted to decipher what I, as a radio operator, transmitted to my colleagues on the radio station at a certain frequency (and, oh yes, this frequency still had to be found on the air, since information about it was secret and the channel, according to which it was posted was closed) – you would need: a Russian radio operator, trained, successfully passed the exam, from the military unit that broadcast important strategic data. For example, as in Table 1:
From the table that I cite as an example of the difference in the decoding of the same codes, it can be seen that the combination of Cyrillic letters for military unit No. 24458 means completely different than for military unit No. 25432; as well as for military unit No. 25542, military unit No. 25523, and so on. And only those military units that were united by one strategic task worked with a single decoding of codes. But what kind of units these were, none of the radiotelegraph operators themselves knew. We only heard each other on the air, communicated, received and transmitted data, but we did not know to which military unit this or that radio operator who went on the air belongs. We received some data blindly, without decryption, and transmitted them in the same way, without decryption. Where and to whom – we did not know, we only knew that it was important strategic data.
After 12 months of service, the best radio operators began to prepare for participation in republican competitions. The essence of the task was to find the so-called “fox” by the participants of the competition – a radio operator-saboteur who sat down somewhere in the forest and transmitted data from there to his liaison. The participants of the competitions were divided into different teams representing different military units and garrisons. After that, they were allocated a forest belt, in which a radio operator-saboteur sat down. On the first day of the competition, each team had its own section of the forest belt, and on the second day all these sections were combined, and representatives of all teams had to find several “fox” saboteurs as quickly as possible. The victory was awarded to the team with the most points. Awards and prizes for individual achievements were also awarded.
I was also invited to these competitions as a participant from my military unit. I went there with my boyfriend, whom I met recently. He served with me, was also a radiotelegraph operator, and taught me everything he knew. He was a handsome tall athletic guy, brave, with a big kind heart and a broad disinterested soul. He was devoted to me, my hero and protector, and you know what? I’ll correct myself a little so that it doesn’t sound like it was only in the past. He still takes care of me. We played a wedding with him in 1992, immediately after demobilization, when we “went to the reserve”. And we are still together. Congratulate us on our joint 30th anniversary! In the third part of this article, you will find out why and to whom our marriage has remained so strong to this day.
So, my future husband and I spent two wonderful weeks at the competitions in the Tyoply Stan military camp near Moscow in the forests, in the CSKA sports complex (Central Army Sports Club). Our morning began with a cross-country run, then we took a shower, had breakfast, went to the training ground, hunted “foxes” – looked for the saboteur’s transmitter, then we were all taken together, in platoons, for lunch to specialized canteens, tasty and fed a lot, after which we could spend time in the city or in nature, in a sports complex, left to ourselves until the next morning. The only condition was to return to the barracks before 23:00 (11:00 PM). After the harsh army regime, it was just some kind of sanatorium, everyone was in a good mood, we played basketball, volleyball, swam in the local river, sunbathed and even went to the cinema on the weekends. As a result, our team took first place in the team standings, and some radio operators from our team received prizes for various achievements.
But in our military unit, not everything was safe. The 90s began, and the first “alarm bell” was a high-profile crime that shook our entire city. There was a scuffle in our military unit, as a result of which an 18-year-old guy, an Uzbek by nationality, stabbed to death a 20-year-old Russian soldier. Interracial and interethnic conflicts grew, aggression poured out not only on the streets, but also in those places that were considered the standard of order and regime. My boyfriend was also beaten by the Uzbeks, but after that almost every one of them was found one by one and punished in such a way that they were forced to flee from the military unit before they reached the demobilization period. To stop such riots, the military units located on the territory of the Tambov, Oryol, Ryazan, Voronezh regions stopped recruiting young men from the Union republics.
In the same turbulent time, another incident occurred that alarmed me very much. Guys from Ukraine served in our military unit. They were handsome, tall, blue-eyed, blond, athletic, and I sympathized with them. I like these types. And then one day, when my friend and I came to our military unit to a disco, we stood in a crowd at the entrance to the ballroom, smoked and told each other funny anecdotes and stories from life. The guys were in military uniform, ironed and smart, smart, they were all wearing classic-style military trousers with carefully ironed arrows and military shirts with ties and tunics with gold buttons sparkling in the darkness of a summer evening. The boots also sparkled – they know how to take care of leather army shoes. The girls came to the dance in chic dresses, skirts and blouses in the “new-look” style (in our city this style was in vogue in the early 90s), with high beautiful hairstyles, in stilettos and with small elegant clutches in their hands. So, we stood together: Russians, Ukrainians, Kazakhs, Moldavians – we laughed, smoked: everyone was fine!
And then someone noticed a pendant in the form of a trident around the neck of one of the guys from Ukraine. He was taken aside and forced to take it off. Then the second, and the third, and a few more guys showed the same trident pendant – they all showed the others the same gold pendants and said that this would be the new coat of arms of Ukraine. The other guys took them aside as well, and also made them remove the pendants from their necks and put them in their pockets. Nothing terrible happened, we just stood there and had a pleasant evening, and then we all went to the dance floor together. But this incident somehow sunk into my soul. I remember this moment as clearly as if it was yesterday. For the first time I confess this to you, dear readers, after this incident, for some reason I felt very sorry for those guys, and for all of us, and I kept thinking: what if mom or dad give me something expensive, that I will wear around my neck, for example, a golden cross or other image, and suddenly someone does not like it, and he asks me to take it off and put it in my pocket? Why on earth??? I wouldn’t do this!!!
I understood the feelings of these Ukrainian guys, they just didn’t want to spoil the holiday for anyone, because showdowns, raids, word for word, then a fight would begin, and so on. They just gave in to others. But I did not understand those who began to consider what others wear around their necks. What do they care? That is, I want to say: what do they care about something intimate, which is located at the heart, on the chest, something very expensive? How dare they interfere? Moreover, the case concerned some ideological issues – only the person himself has the right to make a decision – this is self-identification! Everyone needs it, how can one live without it? To remain a man without a clan and without a tribe? And as soon as these Ukrainians joyfully announced that their country, which is now completely legally gaining independence, will have its own coat of arms, they immediately came under pressure. FOR WHAT??? Uzbekistan can do it, Tajikistan can do it, Kazakhstan can do it, Moldova can do it, but it was possible for all 13 republics, no one considered the representatives of these republics what was hanging around their necks, but the Ukrainians weren’t allowed??? I still can’t figure it out! WHAT WAS IT?..
I remember that incident throughout all these past years. Is it really just because of a chain with a pendant around his neck that contained some kind of wrong image – some of our colleagues could beat up completely innocent good guys who were considered our Slav brothers? This event scared me. Again, as after the Chernobyl accident, I felt how metaphysical evil breaks out. It was unthinkable and inexplicable. There was no motivation for this act! When I began to ask those guys who did it, WHY? They replied: “Well, you see, they (Ukrainians with a trident around their necks) act like traitors, betray us.” I tried to explain in response that now all 15 republics will have their own coats of arms, banners, and this is normal. Why don’t you consider others traitors, Belarusians, for example? And the Ukrainians-do you think??? No one could give me a reasonable answer. The motivation of Uzbeks and Tajiks, as well as other Asians, was clear – they are just different, it has been known to everyone since prehistoric times that their Muslim faith in many ways does not allow them to live and assimilate with Christians, they either always live in their closed enclaves, or leave back to their lands. The motivation of the Kazakhs was also understandable – they wanted independence, although not without impudence on their part when they began to threaten physical harm against Russians living in Kazakhstan. The Russians rebuilt their cities, installed engineering infrastructure, improved resorts such as Aktau on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The Russians taught their children to read and write, taught them at their universities, made them teachers, doctors, programmers, engineers, military men, and so on. The Russians took care of all 15 republics, and now not only have they become useless to anyone, but they have also been subjected to aggressive attacks by ethnic radical groups, lost their property, became refugees in their own country – and all thanks to such “independence”. In itself, it is not criminal – the method by which this very independence is achieved is criminal.
Russians began to be humiliated, beaten, and persecuted throughout the entire territory of the former USSR, and everyone did this, from representatives of the North Caucasus to the farthest village somewhere on the border with Afghanistan. Our compatriots, coming with nothing after many years of work at the enterprises of the Union republics, received the status of refugees and lived in poverty. Both in the Caucasus and in Asian countries, their apartments, houses, jobs were taken away from them, their relatives were killed or maimed, and they were humiliated physically and morally. Many were raped, robbed, left with nothing. And now, when I watch hot reports from the front, I understand where these atrocities come from: sowing chaos, you get chaos as a reward. So, those who were involved in the collapse of the USSR, think about it: didn’t you get a logical result when these raped, robbed, killed and maimed Russians grew up their children and grandchildren? This is not an excuse for violence. This is an attempt to stop him. As it is said in the book of the preacher Ecclesiastes: “The judgment of evil deeds is not soon done, therefore the heart of the sons of men is not afraid to do evil!” (Bible, Ecclesiastes 8 chapter 11 verse). Those who planned and carried out the collapse of a world power simply did not understand the consequences that this collapse would lead to. They could not foresee that people would not only lose social and economic stability, but, more importantly, they would lose their identity, spirituality and the ideological basis of existentiality. After the collapse of the USSR, a wave of banditry, local wars, and terrorist acts swept through all the countries of the former Soviet Union. Impoverished people sold themselves and their children in order to survive. Sexual perverts, pedophiles poured into large cities such as Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Kazan, etc. Directors of social shelters, without any hesitation, began to sell orphans into sexual slavery. Elderly people who lived alone, gangs of “black realtors” took away apartments.
In the markets, where some enterprising people tried to make money by selling some kind of goods, gangs of young fighters-athletes appeared who took “tribute” from the merchants for the opportunity to trade in this place. Refusal to pay such a duty threatened with beating and murder, as well as damage to the goods that merchants usually brought with their last money. Children were abducted, the level of crime grew so much that problems were not solved in any yard or district without a “watcher”. On top of that, gangster structures from the former republics of the USSR poured into large cities, especially Moscow and St. Petersburg, as big money was spinning there. A gang war has begun for spheres of influence in the markets. In this war, young boys and girls died en masse, who were buried by heartbroken parents – often the same ones who returned from the union republics of the Caucasus and Central Asia to their place in Russia. When this war was over, and the money was earned, many people died, and bandits crept into power. This is the result of the fact that it occurred to someone that the USSR should no longer exist. Before destroying a stable state system, it was necessary to think carefully about the consequences. Today we are dealing with them.
After the collapse of the USSR, we saw only evil everywhere, it settled in this country, and you, who today scold Russians and Russia, are also involved in this. There are no innocents! If you have any doubts about this, imagine yourself in the place of my good friend, who, after working for 40 years as an engineer at one of the enterprises in Georgia, retired and stayed to live there in her service apartment, which she earned with her labor. Imagine that your husband is a builder who rebuilt cities in Georgia so that people could live there. So, when you got old, and your husband was paralyzed due to hard work at a construction site, those same Georgians for whom you built cities and invested money in their budget, working at their enterprises, came to your house and said: “Take your husband and get out of here tomorrow. We give you 24 hours, and if you do not leave, tomorrow we will come and slaughter you!”. All night after this threat, you do not sleep, I don’t even mention the morale, through the tears of despair and resentment that cover your eyes, you try to pack your things in a hurry, and then look for those who could take you with your paralyzed husband to the border with Russia. And oh, yes, do not forget that there was no Internet at that time, and not everyone had a landline phone. And imagine, everyone refuses you, because the paralyzed person is not just put into the car, but the morning along with your killers is already approaching.
After that, you, a tired, elderly woman, exhausted, go home, running around all your friends and neighbors, realizing that everyone has the same problems, no one has places in cars, and now they will simply kill you along with your husband. You just go and think: who will die in front of whom – my husband is in front of my eyes, and then they will kill me, or will they first kill me in front of my husband, and then it will be his turn?.. At this time, you see the following picture: right in broad daylight, two Georgians approach a couple of young Russians walking on the street, a girl and her boyfriend, and begin to harass a Russian girl right in the presence of her boyfriend. The guy, of course, stands up for his girlfriend, but immediately gets a knife in the ribs. He is cut right in front of the girl’s eyes, in the presence of passers-by, who simply remain silent and do not interfere. Some of the Russians who witnessed such an attack are trying to call the police, but we all understand who works there – of course, the Georgians will not go to arrest a Georgian for attacking a Russian. The police never arrived.
So you understand that you will really be slaughtered today, along with your family – this is not a joke. But you have no options, you just go home. In the evening, those who threatened you yesterday come to you. And you are trying to explain that you could not persuade anyone to take you to the border. Then one of your killers offers you to give everything you have, all the property: the money accumulated in your bank account, apartment, furniture, kitchen utensils, and everything else in exchange for the fact that he himself will take you. Of course you are scared. After all, it’s not a fact that this person will keep his word, and will not throw you along with your husband somewhere into a roadside ditch with your throat cut (as, by the way, in many cases it happened – in Dagestan, in Chechnya, in Ingushetia, in Georgia, in Asia). But you agree, because there are no options.
And at the end of your anxious journey, you, gray-haired, exhausted, robbed, exhausted, humiliated, are met at the border by your children. I have only one question: how would YOU feel in the place of these children? And what would you, if you were this woman, tell YOUR children about Georgians? And what do you think: what would be the consequences of what these children would learn from your mouth? I think we all understand what it’s about. And in the end, I would like to add that a lot of refugees told us about such cases, it happened in all the republics of the Caucasus and Central Asian region, and this is a fact. Should we be surprised at the aggression that we see now? I do not know the answer to this question. He is rhetorical. I understand only one thing: every act has its consequences. And every action creates a reaction.
All those who today condemn Russia’s actions regarding Afghanistan, Georgia, Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Syria and similar countries – think about it: are you sailing past the iceberg on the Titanic, seeing only its tip? If so, beware of what is hidden under the muddy water! The Titanic is a clumsy ship. But while it is afloat, there is at least some hope! And keep an eye on the waterlines.
 A popular children’s game in the USSR, the rules of which are that children, performing various tasks, try to throw a knife into the ground or a tree in such a way that it sticks with a sharp sharpened blade into a hard surface. According to the rules of the game, each participant must have his own knife, but in a joint team game, one player’s knife could be used if he had the highest performance for convenient throwing.
 The expression “go to the reserve” means that the servicemen, after completing compulsory military service by conscription, are demobilized (dismissed from the army), but attached to the military registration and enlistment office at the place of residence, and they can be called up again for military service if general mobilization is announced.
 After the collapse of the USSR in Russia, bandits began to be called that, who, using the services of district police and housing and communal services (HUS), sought out elderly lonely people, forcibly took them out of the city, to abandoned dachas, and forced them to rewrite an apartment for them, threatening physical violence. When the old people signed contracts (usually it was a donation contract for an apartment), they were still killed so as not to leave witnesses.
 The gangster, who enjoyed authority and could solve the problem, the name of money and connections, much faster than the police and government agencies