Russian tycoon faces jail after arrest for threatening Cambodian sailors


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The Independent Online

A Russian tycoon arrested in Cambodia for threatening local sailors is likely to stay in custody until the end of the month at least, and could face up to three years in jail.

Cambodian authorities say former billionaire Sergei Polonsky threatened sailors with a knife, locked them in a cabin and forced them to jump into the sea. Mr Polonsky, who was arrested last week along with two others, says Cambodian naval officers arrived at his private island after he had set off New Year’s fireworks, and aggressively demanded his documents, before a linguistic misunderstanding led to confrontation.

Mr Polonsky gained notoriety for statements such as “if you don’t have a billion you are nobody”. However, his construction businesses collapsed in 2008. He hit the headlines in 2011 when he was punched during a television debate by fellow Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev, the financial backer of The Independent.

Mr Lebedev has since been charged with hooliganism by Russian authorities and could be jailed for up to two years, a move many observers believe is politically motivated.