Georgian ‘thief-in-law’ of Azerbaijani origin Lotu Guli killed in Turkey
Lotu Guli (Nadir Salifov) was killed on 20 August in Turkey. He was a well-known Azerbaijani thief-in-law with Georgian citizenship. The reason for this high-profile killing may have been a change in market control between various criminal elements operating in Moscow.
The killing has almost immediately become one of the most discussed topics on social media in various post-Soviet countries, where the mafia retains a strong influence.
Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah writes that Salifov had been shot four times by his own bodyguard while eating dinner at a hotel restaurant in Serik, a district of Antalya on the Mediterranean coast. Salifov was hospitalized, but later died from his wounds.
The killer’s name has not been officially released to the public, but the media has identified two individuals detained in relation to the crime, Amir Hamidli and Xain Zeyralov.
Lotu Guli is a nickname – ‘guli’ means heart in Georgian. For whatever reason he may have ended up with “heart” in his name, it certainly wasn’t because of his soft nature.
By the time he was 21, Lotu Guli had already been sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for theft and kidnapping with intent to ransom. Soon another 10 years were added to his sentence, on the basis of serious crimes, including a rape he committed while in prison.
The Azerbaijani Nadir Salifov was one of the most well-known mobsters in the former Soviet Union. He was born on 28 August, 1972, in Mamishlo, a village in the region of Dmanisi in the Georgian SSR.
There he obtained his first passport, and after the fall of the Soviet Union, he became a citizen of independent Georgia by default.
At the start of the 1990’s, Salifov, along with his friend and fellow countryman, Otar Badalov, migrated to Baku, where they committed their first crimes.
In December of 1996 Salifov was convicted of a long list of criminal offences, including theft, extortion and kidnapping. He refused a plea bargain, pleading not guilty, and so received the maximum possible sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment.
In 2000, Nadir Salifov was officially made the “thief-in-law” Lotu Quli, in absentia. At that time, he was still behind bars, and his “coronation” was sponsored by two “godfathers” of the post-Soviet mafia, Raul Kiriya (Raul Rustavsky) and Ceyran Aslanov (Ceyran Rustavsky).
Lotu Guli was slated to be released in 2001, but a significant term had been added to his sentence for a rape that he had committed in prison. According to the investigation records, in May of 2001 a fellow prisoner lost 280 thousand manat (about $165,000) to Salifov in a game of cards. When the prisoner was unable to pay up, Salifov called the prisoner’s wife and threaten to kill her husband unless she came to the prison.
Then he smuggled her into the prison and raped her multiple times.
It was also ascertained that Salifov, during his time in prisons 6 and 16, as well as during his time in solitary confinement in Gobustan prison, was able to rape, with the help of his brother, eight women, who have all been identified by the investigation.
In a special room, illegally provided for him by prison officials, Salifov raped the women and received yet another term of imprisonment for that crime.
Salifov’s lawyers said this case was fabricated against him to extend his term and insisted he be extradited to Georgia.
Lotu Guli’s sentence was to end in 2020, but he was released in 2018 by order of the Qaradag district court in Baku.
Since his release in 2018, Nadir Salifov has controlled Food City, one of the largest wholesale markets in Moscow.
According to the media, more than 13,000 people work on various sites of this 85-hectare agricultural market located on Kaluzhskoye Highway in Moscow. Most of the workers are Azerbaijanis.
Immediately after his release, Nadir Salifov travelled to Turkey by way of Georgia, where he lived in a mansion in Istanbul. The Daily Sabah writes, however, that Salifov was immediately deported from Turkey, only returning illegally.
In February of 2020, authorities arrested 17 people suspected of belonging to Salifov’s gang in Russia.