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Tuesday, 13 September 2011 14:00

Alexander Zhuravlev's Murderers Sentenced

Written by  Wiesław Gierłowski

The court proceedings at the court in St. Petersburg lasted over a year and a half and in May 2011 ended in sentence for the murderers of Aleksander Zhuravlev - an outstanding amber antiques conservator, reviver of the Amber Chamber and creator of an entire range of contemporary pieces of art; as well as an unfailing friend for Polish amber makers.

On the night of December 21st, 2009 he was coming back home from this workshop, where he had just finished an amber portrait of Tzar Alexander II, which he preserved on the last photo he managed to take. He had taken about 10 kilo of amber from the workshop and on the way home he did shopping at a supermarket, in a housing estate of tower blocks, where he had lived with his family for 30 years. Unfortunately, while he was doing the shopping he attracted the attention of two young drug addicts. They had known the artist since they were children, as they lived in one of the block of flats in the neighbourhood. When he entered his staircase and stood in front of the lift with heavy bags full of shopping and amber one of the attackers - Vasilij Ladov - struck him in the temple with a knuckle-duster. Alexander Zhuravlev lost consciousness as a result of the blow, and the following dozen or so blows killed him. The outstanding amber maker died after six days of unsuccessful hospital treatment.

The perpetrators were caught quickly, on December 30th 2009. The amber loot thrown out of the window of their flat, into the snow, was crucial for their identification. It is not clear whether the men wanted to get rid of the evidence of their crime, or if they had not recognised amber. Nevertheless, finding amber on the neighbouring area by the police and previous crimes committed by the men, had instantly drawn the suspicion on them.

During the trial the killers asked Lena Zhuravlev, the widow, and Alexander Zhuravlev's daughters to forgive them. Lena replied to that: "we cannot be sure if Alexander is the last person to be killed by you". The jury sentenced the main perpetrator to 9.5 years of imprisonment, and his helper, Vitalij Bielenkov, to 3 years. It is not much compensation for the damage they have done to society and the amber industry all over the world.

Surely though, the murderers have not managed to lessen Alexander Zhuravlev's role in the society, or limit the warm feelings of many amber makers from various countries, who will never forget Alexander Zhuravlev's friendly and great personality.


Wiesław Gierłowski

Wiesław Gierłowski

Is the oldest amber maker from Gdansk and has been in profession since 1957. The expert of amber and author of many publications about amber. Awarded a distinction – the title of the Amber Maker of the Century.

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