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6 Sep, 2009 05:12

Did UK court order Russian tycoon arrested?

A British court is said to have issued an arrest warrant for Evgeny Chichvarkin, the former head of major Russian cell phone retailer Euroset. However, the court itself hasn’t confirmed this information.

Chichvarkin currently resides in Britain, but he is wanted in Russia for alleged abduction.

“The Russian General Prosecutor’s was notified by the British Interior Ministry that on August 27, the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court issued an arrest order for Evgeny Chichvarkin,” said Marina Gridneva, a spokesperson for the Russian Prosecutor’s Office.

But the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, which is responsible for the extradition of foreign citizens from Britain, has not confirmed the decision about the Russian businessman’s arrest.

Meanwhile, Chichvarkin’s lawyer, Yury Gervis, also said he was not aware of the arrest warrant. RIA Novosti reports him as saying that “the day before there was no talk about any warrants.”

In Russia, Chichvarkin is suspected of abduction, extortion and arbitrariness of his former employee Andrey Vlaskin. Vlaskin is believed to have stolen a shipment of cell phones from Euroset, and Chichvarkin allegedly ordered the company’s security service to force the man to return the goods.

In January, the businessman fled to Great Britain shortly before charges against him were pressed. In August, Russian authorities asked Interpol to put him on the international wanted list.

Speaking on Thursday to the media, Gridneva stressed that the warrant did not equate to the extradition of Chichvarkin to Russia. “This is but a first step in considering the extradition request,” she said.

Chichvarkin is but one of several well-known Russians who now reside in Britain that are wanted in Russia for crimes. Among them are the self-proclaimed Prime Minister of “Independent Chechnya” Akhmed Zakayev and businessman Boris Berezovsky. Britain has been rejecting Russia’s extradition requests for them for several years.

Judicial first

Earlier on Thursday, Gervis announced that one of the suspects in the case agreed to a plea bargain, becoming the first person in Russia to do so since a law allowed such deals on late June.

Sergey Katorgin, a former security guard in Euroset, may have his term reduced by a third, after his request was accepted by the prosecutors. According to the newspaper Kommersant, two more suspects in the case have filed a request for a bargain as well.

Earlier, Chichvarkin told in an interview with Business FM radio station that he was offered a bargain himself but refused.

How can I bargain and admit to things I didn’t do, to justify illegal arrests? What for? If I really wanted to come back, and had a big arse instead of a conscious, I would to it. But I won’t,” he said.