Russia puts tycoon on Interpol wanted list

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The Independent Online

Russia requested today that Interpol place on its international wanted list a flamboyant Russian entrepreneur, who is accused of kidnapping and extortion and has reportedly fled to Britain.

A Russian court in late January ordered the arrest of Yevgeny Chichvarkin, the co-founder of Russian mobile phone retailer Yevroset, but local media have widely reported that he and his wife left for Britain in December.

"The Russian Prosecutor General's office has studied the case and ruled that there are grounds and intentions to seek the arrest and extradition of the accused in case his whereabouts on the territory of a foreign state are established," spokeswoman for the prosecutors Marina Gridneva said today.

Unlike most Russian tycoons, Chichvarkin did not start his business in the murky privatisation of the early 1990s. He and a friend founded Yevroset in 1997, when the mobile phone market had started to emerge in Russia.

Chichvarkin is known in Russia for his eccentric dress stlyle that includes colourful jackets, worn-out jeans and elaborate scarves — as well as his outspoken statements against corruption in Russian police forces.

The arrest follows a criminal case against Chichvarkin's colleagues in Yevroset, who are accused of kidnapping Yevroset's shipping agent and extorting money from him.

The prosecutors say Yevroset's vice-president in charge of security and his subordinates suspected the agent of stealing a large number of handsets he was supposed to ship. Yevroset's officials are suspected of kidnapping the agent from a police station and taking him to a rented flat in Moscow's working class suburbs. The Yevroset men allegedly kept the shipping agent there for several days and demanded that he pay them 10 million rubles (£208,000) — which was allegedly the value of the handset he had stolen.

The prosecutors insisted that Chichvarkin, then head of the company, profited from those actions and therefore should face the justice.