Aleksandr Petrov with his wife Alena and their kids, Nikita and Artem
On August 7, 2006, prominent Russian journalist Aleksandr Petrov (age 31) took his family camping on the banks of Tuekta River in Altay. Aleksandr was an idealistic young professional, who loved his job and his country. He had many opportunities to work for major publishing houses in Moscow, but rejected these job offers to stay in his hometown of Omsk. Even though he could have gone abroad for his August holiday like so many Russian families do, he wanted to share the countryside with his wife Alena and his two sons Nikita (age 7) and Artem (age 3).
Tragically, Mr. Petrov's decision to go camping proved fatal for his family. Altay is well-known for its natural beauty and wild life. Even though possessing firearms without a costly permit is illegal in Russia, many locals have a hand made gun or an illegal weapon, starting at the age of 11 or 12. A 16 year old teenager named Ruslan took a short cut through the woods coming back from his summer job site. Ruslan noticed a nice Mitsubishi car parked by a tent, with no potential witnesses around. Driving a foreign-made vehicle was his childhood dream. So he went to the tent and shot Aleksandr Petrov in the face and his wife in the back. Alena Petrov survived the gunshot wound; so Ruslan used a camping axe to finish her off, then butchered her 7 year old son with the same axe and killed the 3 year old with a rock. He dumped the bodies in the nearby river, took the Petrov's video camera, cell phone and vehicle for a 90 mile joyride...
The search for the family was launched after the stolen Mitsubishi was found in a small regional village without its original number plates on August 10, ninety miles away from the family's camp site. When police identified the owner of the vehicle they called Aleksandr's father to learn where his son might be. Mr. Petrov's father told police about the camping trip he thought his grandsons were enjoying.
On August 12, the body of Aleksandr Petrov was found a few miles down the river from the crime scene. Two days later, rescue groups found the camp site; a day later the body of Alena was found and there still was hope to find the kids alive. Locals from the village where the car was abandoned told investigators that they had seen Ruslan driving around town in the nice foreign car. Police arrested the 16 year old on August 17. The children's bodies were found in the river on August 18.
Ruslan is a drug addict and casually confessed that he was the one who slaughtered the family. When asked why he did it, Ruslan said that he just wanted to drive their nice car. Why did he kill the parents and the kids? Why not! Unlike in America, under Russian criminal law Ruslan cannot be tried as an adult, so the maximum sentence he faces for his brutal crime is 10 years in prison.
Only two months ago my American friend asked another friend visiting from Moscow: "Where do you go camping in Russia?" The Moscow friend, a very nice educated young lady, giggled and said "You don't camp in Russia -- you will get killed with an axe for your sleeping bag". The Petrov family was killed for a "greater" cause than a sleeping bag -- an hour and a half joy ride for a bored sociopath.