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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Suspect, Posing as Brother, Walks Free

news.ngs.ruValery Voblikov
A reputed crime boss made an audacious, if simple, jailbreak late last week by swapping clothes with his doppelganger brother and walking out of a Siberian detention center.

Valery Voblikov, a 37-year-old former police officer, walked out of Novosibirsk detention center No. 1 Thursday afternoon after pulling a switcheroo with his younger brother Dmitry, who had been acting as his lawyer, Denis Vinokurov, spokesman for the Federal Prison Service's regional branch, said by telephone from Novosibirsk on Friday.

Dmitry Voblikov, a 33-year-old dead ringer for his brother, met with his older brother in a room reserved for consultations between suspects and lawyers.

"Such sessions usually last about 30 minutes, but they had a very short meeting," Vinokurov said. "Apparently just enough time to change clothes."

Disguised as his brother, Valery Voblikov then left the room and got into a car waiting outside the building.

"Only when the guard went to escort the suspect back to his cell did he notice he was escorting the wrong person," Vinokurov said.

Police and prison officers have thrown out a region-wide dragnet to nab Valery Voblikov. He had not been caught by Monday.

It was the second time in less than seven months that the suspect had escaped police custody. Voblikov was arrested in Yaroslavl on Dec. 29 in connection with a series of crimes in the Novosibirsk region, including two murders in September 2004, said Natalya Markasova, spokeswoman for the Novosibirsk regional prosecutor's office.

Some 50 OMON riot police officers, 22 beat officers and three police squads took part in the arrest at the request of Novosibirsk authorities, Yaroslavl television channel NTM reported.

He broke free while being escorted to the bathroom in a Yaroslavl police station, Kommersant reported.

Voblikov fled to nearby Kostroma, where police arrested him in early February at a bus station after receiving a tip that he was in town, Regions.ru reported at the time.

Voblikov, if caught and convicted of murder and armed robbery, could face life in prison. His brother faces up to five years in prison on charges of aiding and abetting.

Dmitry Voblikov told police that members of an Ossetian criminal gang that his brother belonged to had threatened him and his common-law wife with violence if he did not help with the escape, Kommersant Novosibirsk reported Saturday.

At a court hearing Friday, Dmitry Voblikov's request to be released on bail was denied, and Judge Yelena Bornikova, perhaps sensing a repeat escape, asked if the Voblikovs had a third brother, the newspaper reported.