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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Prisoners Escape From Van, Flag Down Taxi

Four prisoners being transported from Moscow's Butyrka prison to court succeeded in disarming their guards and locking them up in their own police van, before flagging down a passing car to make good their escape, a police spokesman said Friday.

Igor Rumyantsev, deputy head for the local crime investigation department, said by phone that the four men had escaped from an old-fashioned GAZ-53 police van specially designed for transporting prisoners, on Rublyovskoye Shosse in west Moscow Thursday.

"This is an unprecedented incident for us," Rumyantsev said. "It happened at about midday when the van was transporting criminals from Butyrskaya prison (central Moscow) to different courts where they were being tried."

Rumyantsev said that altogether there were seven prisoners in the van but only four had escaped because they had been separated from the others by a steel partition.

Somehow they had managed to open a barred door between them and the only guard inside the van.

They overpowered the guard, seized his Makarov pistol and then pressed a special alarm.

The driver stopped the van and accompanied by another guard, opened up the back to see what had happened, Rumyantsev said.

When the two policemen opened the doors, the four suspects forced them into the van at gunpoint and locked the doors, Rumyantsev said.

Two of the prisoners then flagged down a passing Volga car, while the other two made a more leisurely getaway on foot, he said.

"We found the Volga driver, he had nothing to do with the prisoners. We have lost all trace of them," continued Rumanyantsev.

Segodnya newspaper blamed the escape on a badly closed door between the police guard and the prisoners.

Rumyantsev said a similar escape happened in 1990 when six criminals had bribed guards and escaped from the same type of police van.

They were also being transported from Butyrskaya prison to a city court building, he said.

"The difference between two incidents is that we managed to catch the first escapees quickly," Rumyantsev said.

Vladimir Vershkov, a spokesman for the city police, said: "Usually, such incidents occur because of our own incompetence. Consequently our investigations never get to the bottom of such cases."