Gennadi Bernovski, 41, was believed to be a colonel in an elite military unit of the KGB before his murder 18 years ago
A $250,000 reward has been offered to help solve the brutal murder of an ex-KGB agent who was gunned down in front of his family inside their luxury home.
Mystery surrounds the death of Gennadi Bernovski, 41, who was believed to be a colonel in an elite military unit of the Russian intelligence agency before he was shot three times at his Gold Coast mansion 18 years ago.
Two bullets were pumped into Bernovski’s stomach and one in his knee – before he desperately crawled to his driveway, where he died in the arms of his wife Svetlana and their six-year-old daughter.
Rumours swirled the Russian immigrant had been murdered by ‘frogmen’ who dived through the city’s canals, swam to his home and murdered him before fleeing the scene via the same route.
While police reject that theory, the killer – or killers – have been walking free since the crime rocked Australia in July, 2000.
Bernovski (centre) died in the arms of his wife Svetlana (right) and their six-year-old daughter
Detective Inspector Marc Hogan said on Wednesday that while the murder was carefully planned and orchestrated, he didn’t believe ‘frogmen’ were involved.
‘There is nothing that we are aware of that gives credence to that version and I’m not sure exactly how that scenario came about,’ he told The Gold Coast Bulletin.
Bernovski was understood to have owed fellow Russian immigrants nearly $1million – including a significant amount to his business partner, Oleg Kouzmine – after series of failed business ventures.
Kouzmine was questioned by police and told detectives his former business partner claimed to be a Russian mafia boss before his murder.
After he was shot, the 41-year-old desperately crawled to the driveway of his home (pictured), where he died
‘I don’t know (if he had any enemies). I know just one thing, that he didn’t make any secret out of it. He just said he was the head of the Russian mafia in Yakutsk and also in Kalingrad… he didn’t hide this,’ Mr Kouzmine said in a police interview.
Following Bernovski’s funeral, another of his business partners, Michael Shnirman, returned home to find a chilling note in his letterbox.
‘1. Bernovski. 2. Shnirman. 3. Starikov,’ the note read, with a line drawn through Mr Bernovski’s name, the publication reported.
Mr Starikov vanished, while Mr Shnirman went into witness protection.
Bernovski was understood to have owed money to his business associates, including a significant amount to his business partner, Oleg Kouzmine (pictured)
Police consider Kouzmine a prime suspect in Bernovski’s murder.
In the weeks after the shooting, Kouzmine fled to Russia, which does not have an extradition treaty with Australia.
The Queensland government is set to announce a $250,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of Bernovski’s killer or killers.
Police Minister Mark Ryan will make the announcement on Thursday, a police spokeswoman told Daily Mail Australia.
Bernovski (pictured) was understood to have owed fellow Russian immigrants nearly $1million
General Bernovski was a martial arts expert who had risen quickly through the ranks of the Russian Army