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Police investigating the case of missing Russian expat Alexei Slabinskiy – initially feared kidnapped on Phuket – believe there are no Thais involved in the incident. But they still don’t know where he is.
Mr Slabinskiy’s girlfriend Yana Strizheus, who was also feared kidnapped and possibly dead, was found injured inside a Thalang hotel room on Sunday. She is now at Vachira Phuket Hospital with injuries to her neck and right wrist. She has resisted speaking to anyone.
Her family feared the couple, who live in Kamala, were kidnapped and might be dead after a series of strange phone calls back home.
At a press conference on March 17th with Minister of Tourism & Sports Somsak Phureesrisak, visiting from Bangkok, media were briefed on the latest in the investigation, but police are remaining pretty tight-lipped over details of the case.
Pol Col Patthanajak Jakkapan, of Kamala Police, said Ms Strizheus was currently in Vachira Phuket Hospital being treated.
“We don’t know where Mr Slabinskiy is. Our investigators are going to try to find out more. We believe that this incident might have arisen from conflict or perhaps from debts Mr Slabinskiy owes.”
He is sure there are no Thais involved in this case, but believes there are other foreigners involved.
Mr Somsak said many foreigners who came to Thailand would tend to do business with people from their home countries.
“Sometimes this causes problems between them. About the case of the Russian couple, it has yet to be proved that this was a kidnapping. The chief of Phuket police [Maj Gen Ong-art Piewruangnon] has insisted that we will have results soon.”
A search began on Friday (March 14) for the missing couple, who were feared kidnapped after a series of phone calls.
On Sunday morning, a team of police and Russian embassy staff visited the couple’s Kamala house, but found no one at home, and no signs of foul play.
Mr Slabinskiy came to Phuket in April 2013 with Ms Strizheus. The 39-old finance broker told friends and family that he was headed to Thailand for a holiday, and to learn Thai.
But their romantic life in Kamala may have turned into a nightmare on March 7 this year.
The Russian couple called relatives claiming that they were in trouble in Phuket, and urgently needed US$100,000 (B3 million) to solve some unexpected problems. After the call, both cellphones phones went silent, and their concerned families raised the alarm.
Then, on Thursday (March 13), Ms Strizheus called her sister in Russia and told her that she had been kidnapped.
“If I don’t arrive back in [the Russian city of] Vladivostok tomorrow, that means I’m already dead,” her sister quoted Ms Strizheus as saying in a whisper.
According to the sister, the conversation lasted for only 30 seconds, and after that Ms Strizheus’s phone went dead again.
That was the last that was seen or heard of the couple until a maid in the Thalang hotel found Ms Strizheus, injured in a hotel room.
Additional reporting by Eakkapop Thongtu Phuket News