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Thanks to the efforts of Arkady Koshko, in 1913 the Russian police were recognized as the best in Europe in terms of crime detection. But the revolution crossed out the work of his whole life.
The path to a childhood dream
Arkady Frantsevich Koshko was born in 1867 in the village of Brozhka, which belonged to the Minsk province. The future chief detective of the Russian Empire belonged to a wealthy and noble family, whose lineage dates back to the existence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Moreover, initially the surname of the representatives of this genus sounded like a Cat, but over time, "a" gave way to "o".
Because of his social position, Arkady Frantsevich decided to go the beaten path and become a military man. Relatives, of course, were only in favor. True, in his heart he wanted something else. Since childhood, Koshko simply adored detective novels, imagined himself in the place of a detective and "investigated" cases. But instead, he studied at the Kazan infantry cadet school, followed by a move to Simbirsk.
Monotonous and monotonous days dragged on. Arkady Frantsevich, being an active and energetic person, was frankly bored. The time turned out to be peaceful, one did not even have to dream of feats of arms. And in 1894, the young officer decided that the time had come to dramatically change his life, namely: to take and realize his childhood dream. And Arkady Frantsevich became an ordinary inspector in Riga. The relatives did not approve of the choice, but they could not influence the young man.
Arkady Frantsevich Koshko (Archival photo)
But Arkady Frantsevich was pleased. He found himself in a whirlpool of events. During three years of work in the Riga police, he managed to solve eight crimes, which was a real achievement. Success, of course, did not appear out of the blue. Arkady Frantsevich in his work often used techniques that he "spied" from his literary colleagues.
Koshko resorted to the method of "catching live bait", luring the criminals onto himself. Make-up and costumes have become integral attributes of a police officer. Having transformed beyond recognition, he went without cover to some noisy place in Riga and got down to work. So, once Arkady Frantsevich managed to bring to criminal responsibility a gang of cheats who could not be caught for a long time. He pretended to be a gambler (to increase the level, the detective took several lessons from professionals), managed to defeat several opponents, and then offered to play the leader of the gang. During the game, the criminal was arrested by the police.
Star career Koshko
At that time, the criminal situation in the Russian Empire worsened. The time is ripe for changes in the police. And in March 1908, the director of the Police Department, Maximilian Ivanovich Trusevich, ordered the formation of a "Criminal Investigation Unit". And in June of the same year, the State Duma undertook to consider the law "On the organization of the detective unit." Ludwig Gotlibovich Lyutz, a former comrade (deputy) prosecutor of the Odessa Regional Court, a member of the Commission on Judicial Reforms, spoke at that meeting. He said that "the rapidly growing crime lately obliges the state to take special measures to combat criminals."
Policemen at the grate of the Mikhailovsky Garden in St. Petersburg, 1907 (MAMM / MDF / russiainphoto.ru)
Lutz then proposed increasing funding for the police, as well as introducing judicial oversight of law enforcement officers. And Ludwig Gottliebovich was heard. The law "On the organization of the detective unit" was approved by Nicholas II and adopted by the State Duma on July 6, 1908. Soon after that, detective departments began to work in all major cities of the Russian Empire.
This law had both positive and negative aspects.Of the minuses, it is worth noting that the detective police turned out to be tied to their province, that is, they could conduct searches, inquiries and prosecutions of criminals only on their own territory. If the situation required a "sortie" to the neighboring province, then the detectives had to hand over the "baton" to the local law enforcement officers. And this led to a decrease in the speed of the investigation. But there were, of course, pluses. The most important thing was that the investigation at the legislative level was delimited not only with the police itself, but also with the criminal process.
Arkady Frantsevich also ideally fit into the modernization. He rose to the position of the head of the detective department of the Riga police. Then he was transferred to the capital. Koshko became an assistant to the head of the Investigative Police of St. Petersburg. But in the capital, Arkady Frantsevich did not stay long - he was transferred to Moscow, having been appointed head of the Investigative Police.
Arkady Koshko (right) and the head of the St. Petersburg detective police Vladimir Filippov (Archival photo)
In 1910, he managed to solve a high-profile case, which even the royal family was outraged. In the spring, an attacker robbed the Assumption Cathedral of the Moscow Kremlin. After examining the crime scene, Arkady Frantsevich suggested that the robber did not have time to escape. Apparently, he stumbled upon a bystander and decided to lay low in the same cathedral.
The guards combed the cathedral several times, but found no trace of the criminal. Arkady Frantsevich ordered to cordon off the crime scene and just wait. Three days later, a guy got out from behind the iconostasis and was immediately arrested. The police found with him precious stones from the icon of the Vladimir Mother of God. The culprit turned out to be Sergei Semyon, a jeweler's apprentice. All three days the guy sat in a secret place and ate prosphora, hoping that the guards would leave.
The main thing
The following year, Arkady Frantsevich managed to neutralize Vaska Belous's gang. This case, perhaps, became the most important in Koshko's career. The detective wrote about him in his book "The Criminal World of Tsarist Russia".
The building of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Russian Empire (Archival photo)
In one of the districts of Moscow in 1911, a gang suddenly appeared. The criminals robbed wealthy people, and without causing them physical harm. The county police were making no headway, so Koshko was involved in the investigation. Soon, law enforcement officers managed to arrest one of the gang members. During interrogation, the criminal said that they were led by Vasily Belousov, who called himself Vaska Belous. Then the robber confessed that the common people stood up for Vaska as a mountain, since he always shared the booty. A kind of Moscow Robin Hood loomed, robbing the rich and helping the poor. It became clear why the county police did not advance in the investigation - Whitebeard, as a real hero, was covered by the peasants.
As time went on, Whitebeard remained elusive. The leader of the gang became so bold that he began to leave letters to the police, in which the message always began the same, with the words: “The deed was done by me, Vaska Belous, the famous ataman of the elusive gang, who was born under the lucky star of Stenka Razin. I don’t shed human blood, but I go for a walk. Don't catch me - I'm elusive. Neither fire nor bullet can take me: I am a charmed one."
But the more Vaska committed robberies, the more careless he became. And blood appeared on his hands. He and his henchmen killed three: a certain wife of the general, bailiff Blinchikov and police warden Muratov. Just after the death of the overseer, the bandit was arrested. Belousov confessed to the crimes and was soon sentenced to death. Vasily did not allow the executioner to execute him, saying: "Do not trash your hands, I will do everything myself." Then he threw the noose around his neck and pushed the stool with his foot.
Arkady Frantsevich had one quality - he always tried to apply the acquired skills in practice.And so Koshko, once in Moscow, modernized the work of the local police in accordance with the adopted law. He built it in the following way: a detective-warden appeared at the police station, supervising not only the work of law enforcement officers, but also the activities of agents and informants. At the same time, the detectives themselves were under surveillance. They were being watched by secret agents personally handpicked by Koshko. And this system has yielded positive results. Of course, it was impossible to get rid of all the bribe-takers and "moles" at once, but it became much more difficult for them to live.
Investigative Police Office (Archive photo)
Arkady Frantsevich also changed the method of round-ups. The main innovation was that no one, not even the police themselves, knew the exact time of the operation or the place. Plus, on his initiative, an advanced file of bandits based on fingerprinting and anthropometry appeared in Moscow. This system was invented by the French lawyer Alphonse Bertillon and it penetrated the Russian Empire at the end of the nineteenth century.
Sample for taking fingerprints (Archival photo)
In 1890, an anthropometric bureau, connected to a photographic pavilion, appeared in St. Petersburg under the Investigative Police. But law enforcement officers practically did not use these developments. Everything was changed by the appearance of Koshko. Thanks to his initiative, anthropometric data, along with fingerprinting, began to play an important role in the capture of criminals. Especially in Moscow, where he adjusted the work of the system, using St. Petersburg developments.
Criminal Investigation Officers register detainees (early 20th century) (Archive photo)
Old age in Paris
The year 1917 abruptly changed the life of the detective, completely canceling out the years of work. The interim government abolished the police, many prisons were closed, and their "inhabitants" were at large. And when the Bolsheviks seized power, a serious threat hung over Arkady Frantsevich. He did not share the views of the Reds and at first tried to just sit out in his estate located in the Novgorod province. But it soon became too dangerous there. Together with the Koshko family, he first moved to Kiev, and from there to Odessa. Then another move followed. Yesterday's detective, fleeing from the Bolsheviks, settled in Sevastopol.
Photo with wife Zinaida Alexandrovna and youngest son Nikolai (Archival photo)
When Crimea fell into the hands of the new government, Arkady Frantsevich emigrated to Turkey, settling in Istanbul. Here he opened a private detective agency and made a living by looking for lost things or convicting unfaithful wives of treason.
Of course, the job was too small for the renowned detective, but it gave at least some confidence in the future. But soon the life of Arkady Frantsevich made another sharp turn. There was a rumor among the emigre community that the Turkish government and the Bolsheviks had agreed on the deportation of all Russians to their homeland. The Koshko family was once again on the run. This time they went to Paris.
Arkady Frantsevich did not change his citizenship. For this reason, he was unable to continue his detective activities either in France or in Great Britain. But Scotland Yard called him to work, it was necessary "only" to become a British subject.
Koshko stayed in Paris, worked as a shop assistant and worked on his memoirs. He wrote: "… I live neither in the present, nor in the future - everything is in the past, and only the memory of it supports me and gives me some moral satisfaction."
Arkady Frantsevich died at the end of 1928. The main detective of the Russian Empire was buried in Paris.