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Phuket kidnappers ‘were Russian loan sharks’

Police are still not sure whether missing Russian expat Alexei Slabinskiy is still alive, but more details of the nightmare emerged this morning (March 21) at a meeting at Kamala police station.

Pol Maj Gen Witsanu Muangpraesri, Deputy Commissioner of Police Region 8, chaired the meeting, which heard that Mr Slabinskiy’s girlfriend, Yana Strizheus – who was found injured in the Blue Garden Resort & Spa, between Bangtao and Surin Beaches, last Saturday (March 15) – had told investigators that the kidnapping was related to money Mr Slabinskiy had failed to repay to loan sharks.

russians wanted for kidnappolice are working on two theories: That the couple were kidnapped by the loan sharks to make Mr Slabinskiy pay up; or that Mr Slabinskiy himself was in on the kidnap plan, the aim being to extort money from Ms Strizheus.

The second theory was lent credence by the fact that police picked up a signal from Mr Slabinskiy’s mobile phone days after the kidnapping. When the location was triangulated, officers rushed to the place the signal was coming from, but found nothing. The signal disappeared.

The story told by Ms Strizheus, however, tends to support the first hypothesis. Still under guard in Vachira Phuket Hospital for her own safety, Ms Strizheus told investigators that she and her boy friend were kidnapped by three men who came to their villa in Kamala.

They took the couple to a bungalow in the secluded Blue Garden Resort. There, the trio beat Mr Slabinskiy and slashed him with a broken bottle to force Ms Strizheus to go to an ATM to withdraw money they said they were owed.

Accompanied by one of the gang, she went to an ATM in Cherng Talay and withdrew more than B300,0000, all she had in her account. The kidnappers, however, were offended. The money owed to them, they said, was B1 million. They beat Mr Slabinskiy again. Ms Strizheus said that in despair, and believing that her boyfriend was dying, she stabbed herself in the throat with the broken bottle that had already been used on Mr Slabinskiy.

The gangsters wrapped the bleeding Mr Slabinskiy in a couple of bedsheets and bundled him into the back of a pick-up truck, leaving Ms Strizheus bleeding in the bungalow.

blue gardenMs Strizheus told investigators that from what she had seen of the violence inflicted on her boyfriend, he was being taken somewhere to be dumped, and she believed he must be dead by now. Police checked the camera at the ATM and collected footage of her withdrawing money, closely watched by the man now known as Oleksandr Boychuk, aka Andrei, a Ukrainian citizen.

Gen Vitsanu said that the case is becoming clearer now and the police are convinced that the kidnapping was genuine. The question is whether Mr Slabinskiy was involved in the plan or not. If he was involved, then the beating was presumably staged and he is now hiding somewhere in Phuket. If he was not, then investigators agree with Ms Strizheus, that he is most likely already dead.

Ms Strizheus told officers that Mr Slabinskiy had borrowed from Russian loan sharks. He was waiting for his family to send him money, but it did not arrive, causing him to miss two deadlines for repayment of the loan with interest. This was why the loan sharks kidnapped the couple and forced her to withdraw money from the ATM. She said she survived because the trio saw her stabbing herself and, believing she had inflicted a deadly wound on herself, left her to die.

Police have so far been unable to identify one of the trio, but have issued arrest warrants for the other two: Boychuk for kidnapping and extortion and Russian national Aleksandr Novichkov for kidnapping and attempted rape. The latter charge was not discussed at today’s meeting. Police believe the two men are still in Phuket, and are trying to track them down. Anyone sighting them is urged to call Lt Col Prawit Engchuan at 081 415 8668

Source Phuket News

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