The four suspects in Dmitri Ganin’s murder investigation swore that while kitchen knives were passed around in the defense of the Woodstock bar in Tallinn, none of them stabbed the young man.
Suspects oblivious of stabbing
Court materials reveal that events of the night of April 26, 2007 took a turn for the fatal for Mustvee resident Dmitri Ganin at around 11.30 p.m. That is when he met up with his schoolmate Oleg Rosenkov and the latter’s friend near the Söögiplats eatery in downtown Tallinn.
The city was being looted. The trio, by now in high spirits, passed by the Kosmos cinema and Freedom Square. Ganin was recording a video of their surroundings using his phone. Rosenkov and Ganin turned a corner to Tatari street full of smoke and broken glass. A place where a group of patrons protecting the bar had already repelled several attacks and had become riled up. Some people had taken refuge in the cellar, while others grabbed knives and other utensils for protection from the kitchen.
“At first we thought they (Ganin and Rosenkov - O. K.) were Estonian. We paid them no more mind because they weren’t aggressive. I saw one of them take a picture of me and the group comment on it in Russian and snicker. Their behavior did not bother me,” one witness said.
Next came a tragic series of mistakes by both sides. “At one point I heard the sound of shattering glass from behind me. The call “get them” went out in Estonian from among a group of people opposite the bar’s doors. I turned around and saw those two young men running away and people, between five and ten persons, chasing after them,” one participant recalled.
During his fourth interrogation, Rosenkov, who had changed his account repeatedly, said he picked up a candelabra and sent it flying through the window. “I started running in the opposite direction. I did not recall having thrown the candlestick, and that Ganin threw a bottle, before,” Rosenkov recalled.
From this point forward relevant events concerned Ganin. Priit, who had been having a conversation with his friends on the corner of Sakala street, was the first of the suspects to jump Ganin. He recalls seeing two men running toward him.
“He (Ganin - O. K.) just managed to get ahead of me, and I managed to hit him in the face a couple of times from behind. Then other people reached where we were. People I didn’t know. One was holding a pool cue,” Priit said. “I didn’t want to beat him. The plan was to nab him, treat him to a few bumps, and then see.”
The company that rushed to dish out payback for the broken window was versatile: people were in different stages of intoxication, and some of the participants were complete strangers to each other. “The chasers were wearing bomber jackets, military boots, and camouflage pants. They were yelling: bloody Russkies, get lost, the eastern border’s that way. I saw an object 15-30 cm in length in Reimo’s hand (name changed - O. K.), but I cannot say for sure what it was,” one suspect claimed.
Here is where suspects’ statements diverge and attempts to claim Ganin was never seriously hurt begin. Some claim Ganin was kicked for a short time, and that hands were not used. No one admitted to having had a knife or seeing anyone have one. There were knives at the Woodstock, but they were left behind.
The attack probably started at 12:21 a.m., which is when a friend called Ganin. “I heard him running and yelling scared “don’t do it, don’t do it” in Russian,” the friend’s statement reads.
Detectives believe the knife was used by one of the four or five initial attackers. The situation is made more complicated by the fact that while the beaters retreated at one point, there were others kneeling next to Ganin after that.
At least one woman and two other defenders of the Woodstock, who claimed they had gone home to fetch a camera but did not touch Ganin. “We didn’t know at the time he had been stabbed. We could see blood all over his chest from under his coat,” one said.
Ganin did not give answers to repeated inquiries by medics of what had happened to him. In shock, the man only said he is in great pain and is having trouble breathing. Therefore it was difficult to establish at first that Ganin, wearing a red vest, had a stab-slash wound of 6.3 cm that had penetrated his left thoracic cavity on his back.
Ganin died of internal bleeding in the hospital some time later. The knife used to take his life has not been found. Detectives have analyzed a knife that turned out not to be the murder weapon.
The investigation had 14 total suspects that were eventually narrowed down to four. “The possible killer is one of that group,” said case prosecutor Endla Ülviste. All are young Estonian boys without prior punishments, known from the time of the Bronze Night as the defenders of Woodstock.