15:06 GMT +316 February 2019
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    Moscow gang leader found guilty of murder of a contract killer

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    MOSCOW, September 21 (RIA Novosti) - A Moscow gang leader was found guilty by a jury Thursday of the murder of a notorious contract killer and his girlfriend.

    A court spokesman told RIA Novosti the jury unanimously found a leader of the Orekhovo-Medvedkovo gang, Andrei Pylev, guilty of the murder of killer Alexander Solonik and Svetlana Kotova.

    According to investigators, the so-called Orekhovo-Medvedkovo gang was formed in the early 1990s, but later split into two factions.

    In August 2005, the Moscow City Court sentenced 10 gang members to 8.5-24 years in prison. They were charged with 14 episodes of premeditated murder in which 18 people were killed, including Solonik. Eight of the defendants pleaded guilty.

    Pylev said he has lived in Spain since 1993, seldom visited Russia and never met Solonik.

    "I do not understand the charges against me," he said. "I did not personally know either Solonik or the convicted members of the Orekhovo-Medvedkovo gang. I have never heard their names, but I can recognize someone by sight."

    Prosecutors accuse Andrei Pylev and his brother Oleg of forming the gang, but the defendant said he seldom met with his brother, and that their last meeting took place in 1999 or 2000.