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Russian-Israeli Intelligence Watch

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Post  TBQ on Sat Jul 10, 2010 11:14 am

Jun 26, 09 -- Ukraine General Newswire. The Krasnogorsk City Court in Moscow region has granted the lawsuit filed by the Samara region against businessman Boris Berezovsky . . . which accused the businessmen of stealing Logovaz and Avtovaz money, and has ordered the businessman and his companion to pay a total of 58 million rubles. On Friday, Berezovsky was found guilty of fraud and money laundering and was sentenced to 13 years in prison for stealing 58 million rubles of Logovaz and Avtovaz money. The second defendant in the case, Yuliy Dubov, was sentenced to nine years in prison in absentia. Berezovsky was sentenced to 11 years in prison for fraud and money laundering. Having adding this sentence to an earlier sentence handed out to Berezovsky, who was earlier sentenced in absentia to six years in prison, the court sentenced him to a total of 13 years in prison. Berezovsky's companion Yuliy Dubov was also found guilty of the same charges. This is the second criminal case against Berezovsky to be tried in absentia because he is outside Russia. "They are charged with fraud and money laundering," Russian Prosecutor General's office spokesman Marina Gridneva told Interfax earlier. The crimes Berezovsky is charged with were committed in the 1990s, when he and Dubov were top managers of Logovaz and Avtovaz.

Jun 26, 09 -- Jerusalem Post. Arkadi Gaydamak announced on Thursday that, after a summer of uncertainty, he has finally decided to continue to bankroll Betar Jerusalem for the coming season. The club seemed to be heading towards bankruptcy after Gaydamak failed to offload Betar to several interested parties, with 31-year-old Jewish millionaire Guma Aguiar seemingly the closest to purchasing the club from the oligarch, who has been living in Moscow in recent months.

Jun 15, 2009 -- Asia Pulse. "Statement by Leonid Nevzlin, Chairman, Board of Governors, Nahum Goldmann. TEL AVIV, June 12 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, Tel Aviv, Israel Following the Shooting at the Leonid Nevzlin today issued the following statement in response to the shooting at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: "Yesterday's shooting at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a terrible reminder that hatred and violence still exist and must be replaced by tolerance and peace. . ."

Jun 3, 2009, The Sun (UK). A DRUG baron aged 81 and his 67-year-old accomplice were behind bars last night for smuggling enough cannabis to roll a joint for every adult in Britain. Israelis Moshe Kedar and younger Mordechai Hersch were arrested after a tug boat arrived at Southampton carrying 12.5 tonnes of marijuana, worth £36 million. The bust, led by the Serious Organised Crime Agency after intelligence from Israeli cops, was one of the biggest in UK history. The haul, picked up from Morocco, had been destined for a Leicesterbased drug gang led by brothers Mohinder and Baljinder Rai.

Apr. 7, 09 -- Interfax -- The defunct oil company Yukos's former major shareholder Leonid Nevzlin was in charge of neutralizing business rivals on instruction from the company's ex-head Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the prosecution claims. "At Khodorkovsky's order Nevzlin was to neutralize and counter business rivals," Prosecutor Valery Lakhtin said reading out an indictment on the second criminal case opened against Khodorkovsky and his former business partner Platon Lebedev. The reading of the indictment began on Tuesday.
Lakhtin said the organized group, led by Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, comprised major Yukos shareholders and top managers, including Nevzlin, Dmitry Gololobov, Vasily Aleksanyan, Mikhail Brudno and Vasily Shakhnovsky. Some of the persons, mentioned in the indictment, were entered on a wanted list, but they do not figure among suspects in the Khodorkovsky-Lebedev case. The Moscow City Court sentenced Nevzlin in absentia to life imprisonment on several criminal charges, including the charge of organizing murders.

Apr. 7, 2009 -- Interfax/AVN - Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov believes Chechnya does not need sovereignty and should stay part of Russia . . . Kadyrov said tycoon Boris Berezovsky is among the people responsible for what occurred in Chechnya. "Berezovsky and people like him subscribed to it. The people who destroyed the Soviet Union also needed to destroy Russia. Berezovsky did that job. He worked with generals, the government, and the administration," said Kadyrov.Ka dyrov said he has met with Berezovsky. "I have seen Berezovsky. I have heard what he says. He could not just give money to the militants, he worked out a scheme. Berezovsky said to Raduyev and Basayev in my presence: "Kidnap people and I will pay you a ransom. I will advertise myself and you will get money.' He paid millions of dollars," said Kadyrov. Kadyrov says he has personally heard Berezovsky say those words. "If someone else, not Basayev and Udugov, kidnapped people, Berezovsky did not pay a ransom," said Kadyrov. Kadyrov also said he blames Berezovsky for the killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. "How could our enemies use Politkovskaya effectively? By killing her! Who did that? I believe this person was Berezovsky," said Kadyrov.

Mar. 22, 09 -- Ma'ariv (Translated from Hebrew) -- Andrey Kalitin was lying on the sidewalk on a side alley in central Moscow, bleeding on the asphalt. He could have sworn he could again hear the phone ringing. As usual that week, the day Kalitin was shot at point blank began with a phone call that woke him up at an almost ungodly time. He had already gotten used to the routine: The phone buzzed, Kalitin picked up the receiver, and the dumb person on the line provided the daily dosage of huffing and puffing, waited a few seconds, and hung up . . . Kalitin, a veteran and highly appreciated correspondent, who has published some of the most outstanding investigative reports in Russian journalism in recent years, was convinced this was one more unsatisfied customer. As a member of the editorial staff of Special Investigation, a popular investigation program on Russia's Channel 1, he had acquired quite a few enemies over the past few years . . . However, on the night of 13 June 2007, a few minutes after a young man donning a baseball cap sneaked from behind and fired a revolver with a silencer, Kalitin had another idea in this context. He was going to sign a contract for the publication of a book called Zero Hour that week, which featured Israeli-Russian oligarch Mikhail Chernoy. Shortly after the attempt to assassinate him, Kalitin, who is a close associate of Chernoy's business rival Oleg Deripaska, claimed that the purpose of the assassination attempt was not to liquidate him but stop the book from being published. Chernoy, for his part, quickly filed a libel suit against Kalitin and others in an Israeli court . . . Kalitin devotes almost a full chapter in the book to the relationship between Chernoy and Avigdor Lieberman. "Why is Chernoy hanging on to Lieberman so tightly?" wondered Kalitin already two years ago, and provided the answer: "Because he hopes Lieberman would get the public security portfolio. Even if it is not Lieberman himself, then it will be one of his party comrades. This will be an achievement after all. This is what will solve Chernoy's main problem today, one which is worth all the money in the world, namely the issue of his Israeli citizenship." . . . Mikhail Semenovich Chernoy has been one of the Israel Police's topmost targets since the end of the 1990's. Until recently, the security services in the United States, Switzerland, France, Bulgaria, Russia, and Germany also expressed great interest in him. The next interior minister will have to determine whether to deny him his Israeli passport and some countries have refused to allow him entry to this day . . .

Mar. 15, 2009 -- Vitaliy Izgilov, one of the main Russian mafia bosses arrested last June in Operation Troika, has already been on an official hunger strike for nearly a month, in protest over his situation. This individual, nicknamed "La Fiera" [The Wild Animal] - extremely dangerous and violent, as was confirmed during police monitoring - was taken from the isolation unit in Zuera prison, where he was being held, to Alcala prison in Madrid. The prisoner stopped eating before the transfer three weeks ago, and it was in that initial phase that he lost the most weight: six or seven kilos. There is no concern about his state of health at the moment because it is being monitored. According to sources consulted by ABC, what could initially have been interpreted as a normal means of pressure among some jailed criminals actually reflects a much more worrying idea: the first phase of an escape plan, drawn up for the moment when this individual is sent to the prison unit of a hospital in view of the serious deterioration of his health condition. It would be much easier under those circumstances, including the transfer, for Izgilov's organization to perpetrate a swift action to free him

Feb. 17, 2009 -- El Mercurio -- Officers at Arturo Merino Benitez Airport arrested Israeli national Moshe Muriel in possession of 5.9 kg of cocaine hydrochloride hidden inside a kayak. The suspect was attempting to travel to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with a connection in Madrid, Spain. Muriel entered Chile as a tourist through the Chacalluta border crossing.

Feb. 15, 2009 -- Jerusalem Post -- Police have amassed sufficient evidence to link Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman with money laundering charges, a former National Fraud Unit investigator told The Jerusalem Post Thursday, citing a senior police source. Police suspect Lieberman used Cypriot bank accounts registered to his daughter's name for money laundering purposes, and possibly to also carry out fraud and bribery offenses . . . As far as Lieberman is concerned, if he does succeed in joining the government, he would be limited in the number of posts available to him, thanks to a precedent set by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz when he placed restrictions on the ministerial jobs available to Kadima MK Tzahi Hanegbi - also the target of a police investigation. A conflict of interests would prevent Lieberman from taking up the post of public security minister, due to that job's direct oversight of the police. The same would apply to the post of justice minister. The Finance Ministry would also be off-limits to Lieberman, since police need approval from the finance minister to access bank accounts and other information belonging to Knesset members who are under investigation. Feb. 9, 2009 -- Xinhua -- Born and raised in Moldova, Lieberman wants Israel's 20-percent Arab minority to prove their allegiance to the Jewish state, or give up their citizenship. He aims to re-divide Israel and the West Bank to switch Arab towns to the jurisdiction of a future Palestinian state, while Israel takes the Jewish areas. [Note: Lieberman paints a bland face on what will be "ethnic cleansing" of Arabs on a massive scale].

February 4, 2009 -- Interfax-AVN -- The Investigative Committee within the Russian prosecution system is compiling a package of documents to request the Israeli authorities about the extradition of Igor Soshnikov, a former Oryol region deputy governor accused of large-scale embezzlement through fraud. "The Investigative Committee's department for the Oryol region has been notified by the Prosecutor General's Office that former Oryol region Deputy Governor Igor Soshnikov, who has been on the international wanted list since August 2008, was seen in Israel," Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax on Wednesday. Soshnikov has been accused of embezzling shares of the Oryol regional energy operator Oryoloblenergo worth over 100 million rubles, he said.

January 27, 2009, RIA/Novosti: The Russian Supreme Court has upheld a life sentence to former Yukos shareholder Leonid Nevzlin, who was tried in absentia for organizing murders and attempted murders. Thus the court turned down an appeal filed by the defence, in which Nevzlin's lawyer asked for the verdict to be cancelled and the criminal case dropped due to the absence of corpus delecti. From today the verdict has become valid. Nevzlin was accused of 11 criminal counts linked to murders and attempted murders. In July 2004 the Russian Prosecutor-General's Office charged him in absentia. Nevzlin was tried in absentia because from the summer of 2003 he has been living in Israel, where he received citizenship. . . The guilty verdict may serve the basis for sending a repeat appeal for Nevzlin's extradition from Israel to Russia. Also, Russia may request that Nevzlin serve his sentence on Israeli territory since the two countries have an agreement to that effect.

Jan 16 (Interfax) - The Russian Supreme Court will hear an appeal against a sentence handed down earlier on Leonid Nevzlin, a former major shareholder of the Yukos oil company, who was found guilty of organizing killings and attempted killings and was sentenced to life in prison in absentia. "The hearings on the appeal have been scheduled for January 27," a court spokesperson told Interfax. Nevzlin's lawyer asked the court to find the sentence unlawful and cancel it.It was reported earlier that the Moscow City Court, which tried Nevzlin in absentia, sentenced him to life in prison and a fine of more than 5.5 million rubles in compensation to the aggrieved parties on August 1, 2008. Russia has placed Nevzlin on an international wanted list.

Dec. 31, 2008 -- El Tempo (Bogota) reported that DAS (Administrative Department of Security) detectives captured Israeli national Ilan Kadar for drug smuggling.

Dec. 13, 2008 -- The Age (Melbourne) ISRAELI drug lords are increasingly targeting Australia for ecstasy smuggling. Israeli police intelligence reveals that crime syndicates operating out of Israel view Australia as a booming market for the party drug.
Israeli crime syndicates control a significant share of the global ecstasy trade and have a long history of supplying the Australian market. In March, 45-year-old Israeli man Benjamin Rosenfeld was sentenced to 21 years' jail for importing 112 kilograms of the drug MDMA, the main ingredient of ecstasy, with a street value estimated at $45 million. Rosenfeld organised the drug shipment from the northern Israeli port of Haifa. According to Israel police, Israeli crime gangs are smuggling large quantities of ecstasy out of production houses in the Netherlands, then into Belgium and Spain. From there the smuggling route can be traced through the Middle East to Thailand or Singapore, and then on to Australia . . .

Last month a Thai court sentenced two Israelis to death after convicting them of drug smuggling. The two men were arrested last year as part of a major drug operation and were caught with 23,000 ecstasy pills.

Dec. 7, 2008 -- Digital Journal. Customs officials admit that the clandestine production and smuggling of ketamine is turning Goa into a transit point for an international drug mafia. The ketamine smuggling mafia involves Italian, German, English and Scottish drug dealers who operate from Europe, using either charter tourists as carriers or the courier parcel system as means of transportation. Another transit point: Kullu Valley Drugs, easily available in the northern hill station of Dharamshala, find their way through a cartel of drug dealers to Europe. A flourishing drug trade thrives in the Kullu Valley in north India. Backpacking tourists - mostly Israelis fresh from their military duties and known for their cheap and plentiful supply of hashish, frequent the valley. Reports indicate that a powerful Israeli mafia allegedly controls much of the drug trade in the valley.

Nov. 26, 2008 -- Haaretz -- Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Tuesday urged her Thai counterpart to ask his government to reconsider the death sentence it had handed down to two Israel nationals convicted of drug smuggling las year. In her appeal, Livni condemned the defendents for their act and affirmed that the international community must continue its war on drugs.

She said that those found guilty of such criminal acts must sit behind bars and pay the price, and added that Israel would not be appealing the sentence if they had been given the penalty of imprisonment rather than death. The lawyer of one of the Israeli nationals facing the death penalty said on ednesday that Israel could save the two by bribing Thai authorities, but has been reluctant to do so. Attorney Mordechai Tzivin, representing Alon Makhlouf, told Army Radio that the Foreign Ministry has in the past forged identity papers and bribed police officers for "people they wanted to see released." Makhlouf and Vladimir Akronik were arrested about a year ago during a large-scale police operation on Bangkok's Kao San road, a popular destination for Israeli tourists. They were caught with 23,000 ecstasy pills in their possession that they had smuggled from Europe. They had planned to take the drugs from Thailand to sell in Japan, Australia and the United States. Thai police also arrested a number of other Israelis in the same operation, but they were later released when it became clear they had no connection with the incident.

Nov. 25, 2008, AP - Israeli police say they have busted an international ring of Israeli drug smugglers and that $500 million worth of cocaine has been seized in three different countries. The police say law enforcement officials working in several countries seized one-and-a-half tons of cocaine. Their statement Tuesday said the drugs were caught in October and November in the Bahamas, Spain and Peru. Police say the drugs were hidden inside industrial machinery and sent in shipping containers. They say 10 Israelis have been arrested and one more is still wanted abroad. The statement says among those arrested in Peru is a welder whose job was to conceal the drugs. Another is the head of a cargo company who arranged the drugs' transport.

UPI, Nov,. 25, 2008 A multinational effort led to the breakup of a major cocaine ring and the seizure of the largest quantity of drugs in Israeli police history, officials said. More than 3,000 pounds of cocaine was seized in three raids worldwide, including Haifa's international ports, Israeli Coastal Police Deputy Cmdr. Michael Shafshak told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. The cocaine was stashed in metal cutting machines.The operation involving the Coastal Police's Central Unit, Haifa Customs and authorities from Spain and Peru began six months ago, Shafshak said. The investigation alleged that former soccer player Moshe El-Garbli, 40, of Magdim, led the network, and that Morris Abdelhek, 51, of Kiryat Yam, headed ground operations in Peru, he said.

VOA, Nov. 17, 2008 -- Israeli police say a car bomb in central Tel Aviv has killed the suspected leader of one of the country's top crime families. Officials say they believe a rival crime family targeted Ya'akov Alperon Monday, in the attack. The blast also slightly wounded two bystanders, including a 13-year-old boy. Media reports say Alperon was returning from a court hearing for his son, Dror, who is facing extortion charges. Witnesses say they heard a huge explosion, and some thought it was a terrorist attack. In June, another car bomb in Tel Aviv killed one of Israel's top criminal lawyers, in what police said was a criminal, not a terrorist, act. The lawyer, Yoram Haham, had represented several notorious mobsters during his career as a criminal lawyer

Nov. 10, 2008 -- Luanda Novo Jornal in Portuguese. Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos should be visiting France next year, but this will depend on the outcome of a trial currently taking place in Paris which involves, among others, Pierre Falcone. French Judge Jean-Baptiste Partos sentence, which will be read on 4 March 2009, regarding the 42 accused of involvement in the "Angolagate" case, will be decisive in terms of the visit that Dos Santos is planning to France, next year. Dos Santos last visited Paris in 1999. Eduardo dos Santos is expecting to repay Nicolas Sarkozy's visit to Luanda last May, by visiting Paris in 2009, but this date depends on the resolution of the judicial case as well as on the presidential elections. The trial of the 42 accused of involvement in arms trafficking with Angola is continuing in Paris. These crimes allegedly took place between 1993 and 1995. The main defendants are: Pierre Falcone, a French citizen who also has an Angolan diplomatic passport and is official adviser-minister to the standing Angolan mission to UNESCO; Arkadi Gaydamak, an Israeli-Russian who has taken up refuge in Israel; Charles Pasqua, former French Interior Minister; and Jean-Christophe Mitterand, the son of former State President Francois Mitterand. At the start of the hearings, on 6 November, the Angolan Government, through its lawyer, Francis Teitgen, tried to stop the matter from going to the Supreme Court, alleging that it was against "the public discussion of information and contents of State and national defense interest in a foreign court." In other words, Luanda tried to avoid the divulgence by the accused or by witnesses of sensitive matters, connected to the sovereignty and secrets of a country, during the hearings. Given these fears, Foreign Minister Assuncao dos Anjos sent a letter to her French counterpart, Bernard Koutchner, with a similar statement to that of the lawyer representing the Angolan state. The content of the letter, according to diplomatic sources contacted by Novo Jornal, was taken as "unfriendly" at Quai D'Orsay, the headquarters of the French Foreign Affairs Ministry.

Nov. 4, 2008 -- Ukrayinska Pravda, Kiev. SPECIAL REPORT. At the end of the 1990s, the affairs of Dmytro Firtash and Maryna Kalynovska (then already Mariya Firtash) were going very badly. The small firm of Kalynovska Mariya i Lyubov (KLIM) was in terrible shape. According to the recollections of former employees, failure after failure in contracts with partners was being augmented by the total nonpayment of debts for the delivery of foodstuffs. Maryna and Dmytro spent the whole year traveling. Ignoring the telephone calls of creditors and growing debts, the partners, without realizing it themselves, were taking giant strides toward the gas transportation market. When exactly the smell of gas appeared in the agreements is difficult to determine now. One thing is clear--entry into the energy supply market was not the result of the "vegetable," or transport, or any other Kalynovskyy-Firtash business. Neither KMIL, nor Forvater, nor Alatyir, nor any other companies in which Dmytro Firtash worked had sufficient assets to begin trading in gas. According to many sources, the person who secured the first gas contract for KMIL was one Volodymyr Halazdra. This individual played a small but very signal role in the life of Maryna and Dmytro Firtash.

The story of the partners' acquaintance with Halazdra is rather vague. Many of Maryna Kalynovska's relatives and the former wife of the gas oligarch herself claim that it was she who found the influential partner. However, all the stories they tell are shrouded in mystery to one extent or another.

That may be due to Maryna Kalynovska's personality. Ever since Mrs. Kalynovska-Firtash became a patron of the Holy Ascension Monastery in the village of Bancheny in Chernivtsi oblast, Maryna Firtash has been called Mother Mariya in religious circles.

Incidentally, Maryna Kalynovska and her friend, former fuel and energy minister Yuriy Boyko, are the godparents of many of the children in the orphanage established at the monastery.

In those years Maryna Firtash often visited Israel and prayed at the Russian Spiritual Mission in Jerusalem. During one of her visits, at the beginning of the 2000s, she told her brother, Petro Moskal, at the Church of the Holy Great Martyr Tsarina Alexandra that she saw the face on an icon of the person who would help her and her husband settle their debts.

The person who appeared to Mother Mariya and whom she allegedly later recognized during a chance meeting in Kyiv was Volodymyr Mykolayovych Halazdra, a member of the executive board of the Poltava Mining and Enrichment Combine.

At the time, Volodymyr Halazdra belonged to the Finance and Credit (Finansy i Kredyt) group, whose owners were Oleksiy Kucherenko, today a people's deputy from Our Ukraine, and Kostyantyn Zhevaho, a deputy from BYuT (Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc). He was later replaced on the executive board of the Poltava Mining and Enrichment Combine by current BYuT deputy Anzhelika Labunska.

However, it was Mr. Halazdra's other job that was of great value to Maryna Kalynovska and Dmytro Firtash at the time--he was also the director of the small company known as Bari, which eventually became one of the centers of the Finance and Credit group.

And at the end of the 1990s, Bari was only a small part of Interhaz--Ihor Bakay's gas empire.

When in 1998 Mr. Bakay became the first chairman of the executive board of NAK (National Joint-Stock Company) Naftohaz Ukrayiny, whose creation was his "project," the patronage over Bari was assumed by his close friend, Oleksandr Volkov, (then) a people's deputy and advisor to President (Leonid) Kuchma.

The Bari company did not play a key role, but one that was nonetheless very important, in the scheme devised by Ihor Bakay of "gas in exchange for food." In effect, the joint venture was the principal agent in charge of paying with goods and services for the Turkmen gas consumed by Ukraine.

In 1998, SP (joint venture) Bari became one of Ukraine's gas traders and for a while supplied Russian gas together with Interhaz. According to some reports, there was even a separate contract between RAT (Russian Joint-Stock Company) Gazprom and Bari for the supply of 2.8 billion cubic meters of gas.

Interestingly, in its form of ownership Bari was a Ukrainian-Swiss joint venture. Through a curious coincidence, it was in the Swiss canton of Zug that the RosUkrEnergo company was later registered. [WMR Note: Russian-Israeli Mafia don Marc Rich is also based in Zug].

Before Volodymyr Halazdra's meeting with the partners Maryna and Dmytro Firtash, KMIL had already accumulated a certain number of debtors in Turkmenistan. The first contract which the director of the Bari joint venture secured for his new partners entailed, according to various reports, the supply of rails or fittings.

In addition, the newly emerged gas traders Maryna and Dmytro Firtash already had some contacts in Turkmenistan's gas circles, dating back to the duo's time in Germany.

By the end of the 1990s, the partners opened a small transportation company, MDF Transspeditions, in Berlin. MDF expands to Marina & Dmitriy Firtash. By the irony of fate, many years later Dmytro Firtash presented the world with his own group with a similar name, changing only one letter in it--GDF (Group of Dmitriy Firtash).

One of the partners in MDF Transspeditions--the owner of a small insurance company--known as Anton--eventually became the fictitious husband of Dmytro Firtash's first wife, Lyudmyla Firtash (maiden name Hrabovetska).

In mid 1998, Anton introduced Maryna Firtash to a highly placed official in Turkmenistan's embassy to Germany, who eventually became a top official in the oil and gas sphere and provided support to Dmytro and Maryna Firtash in gas contracts. Gas in Exchange for Satisfaction

The scheme of gas deliveries on barter terms looked as follows. NAK Naftohaz Ukrayiny received gas in exchange for deliveries of foodstuffs to Turkmenistan, but in practice Naftohaz Ukrayiny itself had nothing to do with the supply of food products to Turkmenistan. This was left to various intermediaries, such as Bari or KMIL.

But because of the shortage of foreign exchange across the entire post-Soviet space, the companies acting as intermediaries also received a part of the gas on the domestic market as payment.

From there the distribution of gas in the domestic market took on rather interesting forms: NAK Naftohaz Ukrayiny supplied fuel to the nonprofit sector--budget-financed enterprises, oblast gas distributing companies, and state institutions, while the small intermediaries and large private traders, like Ihor Bakay's Respublika and Interhaz, supplied the profit-making industrial sector.

Maryna and Dmytro Firtash's KMIL company became one such intermediary. On 12 May 2000, the small Chernivtsi firm, which in the past had sold canned goods, received a license "for the right to engage in business activity supplying natural gas at unregulated rates."

But very soon the KMIL partners received an offer to work together with Igor Makarov, the largest gas trader at the time, and his company, Itera. To guarantee joint schemes to supply food products to Turkmenistan, a company called Highrock Holding Ltd. was registered on 15 January 2001 in the city of Limassol in Cyprus.

The founders of Highrock Holding Ltd. were listed as:

Dmytro Firtash


Mariya Firtash


Agatheas Trading Ltd.


Finegoods Trading Ltd.


According to Ukrayinska Pravda 's sources, Agatheas Trading Ltd. and Finegoods Trading Ltd. were established on the same day, on 31 December 2000, exactly 15 days before the registration of Highrock Holding Ltd. What is more, both companies have the same founder--Mittelmeer Nominees Ltd., acting on behalf of the law firm of Christodoulos G. Vassiliades & Co.

On 30 January 2001, Dmytro Firtash was appointed the official director of Highrock Holding Ltd.

Highrock Holding Ltd. long remained the main company in Dmytro Firtash's scheme of the supply of gas in exchange for food products. Later, 80% of the stock of his Tadzhikazot company were registered to the same company.

For a while Highrock Holding Ltd. continued to work together with the Bari company, but the financial flows, which were growing, allowed the then still partners to plan creating a separate structure.

Half a year after the registration of Highrock Holding Ltd., Maryna Kalynovska and Dmytro Firtash, without notifying even their closest relatives, suddenly decided to legalize their relationship. As is clear, theirs was a fictitious marriage and equally indispensable to both partners.

Already at the beginning of 2000, the roles of the partners changed diametrically--whereas until then it was Maryna Kalynovska who primarily conducted negotiations, now Dmytro Firtash began to appear more and more often at talks. This kind of marked independence on the part of her partner could not have failed to disturb Mrs. Kalynovska.

The secret of the mysterious marriage lay in that Highrock Holding Ltd. became the first, and apparently, the only joint company of Maryna Kalynovska and Dmytro Firtash. Before that, all business relations between the partners were based exclusively on agreements between them and were not legally registered. However, in all fairness it should be noted that KMIL and all the other small companies that were the beginning of their joint business were registered in Maryna Firtash's name.

The business nature of the union was also underscored by the fact that the witnesses for the recently married couple at the registry office (ZAGS) were the same director of Bari, Volodymyr Halazdra, and his wife, Svitlana.

But an equal union failed to emerge. According to the written testimony of Maryna Firtash in the Limassola district court (Ukrayinska Pravda has it at its disposal), after a short period of time, Finegoods Trading Ltd. was withdrawn from the list of founders (of Highrock Holding Ltd.) and Dmytro Firtash became the sole owner and director of Agatheas Trading Ltd., concentrating 84% of the company's stock in his own hands.

What is most interesting is that the document lists the address of the "large asset" Agatheas Trading Ltd. as Kyiv, Pavlovska Street, 18. Ukrayinska Pravda has learned that this address is now the location of the office of Maryna Kalynovska's younger son, Oleksandr.

The end of 2002 was a turning point in Dmytro Firtash's life. In November, Oleksandr Ryazanov, the deputy head of Gazprom, who later became one of the chief lobbyists of RosUkrEnergo, suddenly announced that Russia could do without an intermediary in its gas relations with Ukraine.

But a simple comparison of the dates of the statements and official meetings of top ranking officials of NAK Naftohaz Ukrayiny and Gazprom with the dates of the creation of the company that became the monopoly supplier of gas indicates that this was a pure ruse by Mr. Ryazanov.

On 5 December 2002, Gazprom and Naftohaz Ukrayiny signed an agreement to create a joint venture to be responsible for the transit of Turkmen gas. And next day (!), on 6 December 2002, on instructions from Dmytro Firtash, four natural persons established the Eural Trans Gas company in the small Hungarian village of Czabdi. Later, it was this company that became the first gas monopoly and intermediary in the supply of Turkmen gas.

And what is most interesting, Eural Trans Gas, like Itera before it, continued using the services of intermediary companies.

In particular, Highrock Holding Ltd. continued actively servicing the barter operations of Eural Trans Gas. The companies of the Highrock group, together with NAK Naftohaz Ukrayiny, became co-owners of TOV (limited liability company) Ukrhaztreyd, which supplied Central Asian cotton and also gas and electric power to producers of mineral fertilizers.

In other words, neither the supply scheme nor its transparency changed with the exit of Itera--only the participants changed.

The subsequent change of middleman - from Eural Trans Gas to RosUkrEnergo - was even more banal. Until the end of 2005, RosUkrEnergo continued to use the barter scheme of gas supply with the participation of former intermediaries. That is, neither the scheme of operations nor, as became clear later, its participants changed.

Because by then it was clear to many that it was Dmytro Firtash whom the Austrian bank was trying to keep secret. For example, one of the representatives of the coordinating council of RosUkrEnergo from Raiffeisen Investment was Dmytro Firtash's old partner, Robert Shetler-Jones. What is more, at the beginning of 2006, Dmytro Firtash himself was seen at meetings of the company's executive board as a consultant to Raiffeisen Investment.

The only thing that remains unclear to this day is what purpose did the replacement of Eural Trans Gas by RosUkrEnergo serve if both the owners and beneficiaries of the company remained the same? Then, as now, the owners of the company got into hot water because of their glaring secrecy--rivals and opponents launched a campaign in the mass media accusing Eural Trans Gas of ties to one of the world's most odious crime bosses, Semyon Mogilevich (Semen Mohylevych).

The only thing that was noteworthy in the process of changing yet another intermediary was the underscored publicity of the fact that Russia was among the founders of RosUkrEnergo: Gazprom officially admitted owning a share in RUE stock.

As a result, the question concerning the involvement of the rest of the owners of the company in Semyon Mogilevich's empire was left up in the air.

(Part 4. 1 February 2008) Shadows of Semyon Mogilevich

February 2006. Moscow. Vladimir Putin about RosUkrEnergo.

"You should ask Viktor Yushchenko. Gazprom has a 50% stake (in RosUkrEnergo), and 50% belongs to the Ukrainian side. And I said to Viktor Yushchenko: 'If you like, we'll be more than happy if your 50 percent are secured directly by Naftohaz Ukrayiny.' But this was not our doing. The Ukrainian side did this. Like you, I have no idea whom they set up as holder of those 50% under the Raiffeisen Bank shingle. And Gazprom does not know. Believe me, I'm telling you the 100% truth! That's the Ukrainian share! So ask them! I told Viktor Yushchenko: 'Give this directly to Naftohaz Ukrayiny. If you don't want to, let's create another enterprise.' They don't want to. They were the ones who proposed that RosUkrEnergo supply gas to Ukraine instead of Gazprom. We agreed to this. The main thing for us is the price formula."

There was no reaction to the Russian president's scandalous response.

The need for a cover, a role played for a long time by Raiffeisen Investment, arose after it proved easier to remove the predecessor of RosUkrEnergo--the Eural Trans Gas company--from the market than to convince the public that it had no ties to Semyon Mogilevich.

But this became more than just a defeat for the public relations people and press secretaries of Eural Trans Gas. Leaving the market the way the company did stigmatized forever everyone connected with Eural Trans Gas as "Seva's people" (i.e., Mogilevich's).

A little less than three and a half years have passed since Eural Trans Gas was replaced, but it looks as if RosUkrEnergo has every chance of suffering the same fate as its predecessor.

The arrest of Semyon Mogilevich at the end of last week (24 January 2008) provoked a spate of articles hinting at his involvement in Dmytro Firtash's business. However, it is virtually impossible to find a direct, legally formalized link between these two people.

Semyon Mogilevich never aspired to figure independently as the direct founder of any companies.

The only instance in which his name appeared as an official beneficiary was the offshore Arigon Company Limited (Arigon), registered in the Channel Islands in 1990.

This company figured in the famous case of YBM Magnex--the fictitious company, whose shares were quoted for several years on the stock exchanges of the U.S. and Canada. When it was discovered that all the firm's operations were virtual, and its "plant" with a turnover of $20 million from the production of magnets and metal products was located in an annex to a former school building, the company was sued for $150 million. This was one of the largest shady deals of the 20th century.

Mogilevich wanted poster

As a result of the investigation, Semyon Mogilevich and his partner, Igor Fisherman, who headed YBM Magnex, found themselves on the FBI's list of the five most wanted criminal bosses.

Since then, all the companies linked to Mr. Mogilevich have been registered in the names of fictitious persons.

However, there are a few grounds on which Dmytro Firtash will continue to be suspected of cooperating with Semyon Mogilevich for a long time yet. Argument Number One. Eural Trans Gas

As already stated in the preceding section, the Eural Trans Gas company replaced Itera at the end of 2002 and continued to operate using the barter scheme in settlements for gas supplies. Moreover, the new intermediary used the services of same companies that had formerly serviced Igor Makarov's Itera.

In 2005, the international nongovernmental organization, Global Witness, which is directed at fighting human rights violations by countries that export natural resources, published a report (link to PDF version of the Russian translation of the report, entitled "Laughing Gas: Absurdity in the Gas Trade," at ), according to which the charter documents of Eural Trans Gas indicate that initially the company was registered by the Israeli lawyer Zeev Gordon, also known as Vladimir Averbukh. In this same Global Witness report, Gordon-Averbukh admitted that he acted on the personal instructions of Dmytro Firtash.

Some time later, it was learned that Mr. Gordon has been Semyon Mogilevich's lawyer for a long time. Even now, after the arrest of Mr. Mogilevich, the lawyer has made many statements in defense of his client in the press. Most recently, in an official comment to the Financial Times.

Why Dmytro Firtash decided to use the services of this man in particular is unclear. Gordon himself states that in registering Eural Trans Gas he did not represent Mr. Firtash's interests in the company. At the same time, Zeev Gordon was never Dmytro Firtash's lawyer.

Incidentally, the post of head of the Eural Trans Gas company was assumed by Hungary's former culture minister (as published), Andras Knopp, a man considered to be very close to Semyon Mogilevich.

According to information obtained by Ukrayinska Pravda, Mr. Knopp first met Dmytro Firtash in Germany, when the Maryna Kalynovska and Dmytro Firtash couple ran the MDF Transspedition transportation company. At that time, Andras Knopp headed the local tobacco plant Reemtsma, and he obviously assisted Maryna and Dmytro Firtash with deliveries of cigarettes to Ukraine. Argument Number Two. Highrock Holding Ltd.

There are two versions of how this company came into being. According to one of them, which was described in the preceding part of this investigative report, Highrock Holding Ltd. emerged as a result of a proposal to work together from Itera president Ihor Bakay.

But some of Ukrayinska Pravda 's sources maintain that the creation of Highrock Holding Ltd. had absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Makarov's project. The supply of food products to Turkmenistan was only one of his jobs.

What is more, after Itera left the market, Highrock Holding Ltd. continued to service Eural Trans Gas and later became one of the main companies supplying foodstuffs during the "barter period" of RosUkrEnergo's operations.

The founders of Highrock Holding Ltd. were Maryna Kalynovska (15.99%), Dmytro Firtash (16.99%), and two juridical persons--Finegoods Trading Ltd. and Agatheas Trading Ltd.

Of greatest interest is the last company, Agatheas Trading Ltd., whose director since June 2003 and to this day has been Dmytro Firtash.

According to the registry of Cypriot companies, until January 2001 the company was headed at different times by two hired lawyers. And then in January 2001, and until the appointment of Dmytro Firtash director, a certain Galina (Halyna) Telesh was the director of Agatheas Trading Ltd.

Chart 1

We now know that in 1995, Galina Alekseyevna Telesh, b. 1964, became the legal wife of Semyon Mogilevich. What's more, they have a son together.

However, Dmytro Firtash, in an interview on 14 July 2006 with the Financial Times (link to "Comment and Analysis: Disputed links to an alleged crime boss" at:,id=060714000662,print=yes.html,id=060714000662,print=yes.html ) maintains that for two and a half years from the time of the creation of Highrock Holding Ltd. he did not know who his partner was, because he was not acquainted with Mrs. Telesh.

According to Mr. Firtash, he learned of her participation by chance. "But I immediately went to Cyprus and changed everything. I simply didn't check one more time, because I was naive," sincerely explained the businessman whose companies at that moment already totaled many scores of millions of dollars in turnover. Argument Number Three. Arbat Prestige

At this moment, Semyon Mogilevich is being held under guard in connection with charges of failure to pay taxes by Arbat and Co., which belongs to a chain of perfume stores called Arbat Prestige (Arbat-Prestizh). The owner of the chain, Vladimir Nekrasov, was arrested along with Mogilevich.

For a long time, Dmytro Firtash's involvement with the Arbat Prestige chain was only rumored about. But no concrete details were cited regarding where exactly this link could be found and what companies were involved. Ukrayinska Pravda

attempted to trace the whole chain of links within the framework of Arbat Prestige between structures and people controlled by Dmytro Firtash and Semyon Mogilevich.

The starting point of our investigation was the information obtained from Yuriy Karmazin, who currently serves as a people's deputy from Our Ukraine.

Last year, at the height of the scandal surrounding the traffic accident involving Dmytro Firtash's step-son, Serhiy Kalynovskyy (link to Mustafa Nayem, "Tragedy on Shevchenko Boulevard. The 'Firtash vs. Kalynovskyy' Case," Ukrayinska Pravda, 7 June 2007 at: ), the former wife of the gas monopolist, Maryna Kalynovska, asked Mr. Karmazin for legal assistance. It should be noted that earlier Mrs. Kalynovska had run for a seat in the Kyiv City Council on the list of Yuriy Karmazin's bloc.

In the course of one of his conversations with Ukrayinska Pravda, Mr. Karmazin stated that according to the testimony of Maryna Kalynovska, she and her former husband each own 17.5% of the Arbat Prestige chain.

In accordance with the Unified State Register of Juridical Persons of the Russian Federation, Arbat and Co., which was later reregistered as Arbat Prestige, was established in December 2001. Its founders were two citizens of Russia: a certain Elena Pento, and Aleksandr Rudenko, the director of the Moscow company, Imperiya Isteyt.

The founders of the Imperiya Isteyt limited liability company were the current owner of Arbat Prestige, Vladimir Nekrasov, and the Rinvey limited liability company. Rinvey is the key structure in which at various times the interests of Mogilevich intersected with those of Dmytro Firtash.

Rinvey was established in June 2001 by Elmstad Trading Ltd., registered in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. According to unconfirmed reports, for a certain period of time this company was a link in the delivery of foodstuffs to Turkmenistan in exchange for gas.

According to Ukrayinska Pravda 's sources, in 2004 Emstad Trading Ltd. was definitely listed at Raiffeisen Investment as owned by Dmytro Firtash. One of the employees of the investment company maintains that this is contained in the report prepared by Kroll, the American detective agency, which conducted an investigation of the ownership structure of RosUkrEnergo at the request of Raiffeisen Investment.

However, there are also a few other arguments to support the information that even before 2004 Dmytro Firtash not only had a direct connection to Elmstad Trading Ltd. but actually controlled it. First, the first director of Elmstad Trading Ltd. was Oleg Palchikov, who later served as head of the Moscow representation of Eural Trans Gas and executive director of RosUkrEnergo. Second, the legal address of the Moscow representation of Elmstad Trading Ltd. is the same as the legal address of the Moscow subdivision of Highrock Holding Ltd.

Although at first glance only a native Muscovite would know that: the office of Highrock Holding Ltd. is located at Novyy Arbat, 14, and the office of Elmstad Trading Ltd. is at Velikaya Molchanovka, d. 17/14. In reality this is the same building with facades facing both Novyy Arbat and Velikaya Molchanovka.

In addition, both companies, Elmstad Trading Ltd. and Highrock Holding Ltd., listed the same telephone number of their Moscow offices in their registration documents.

Significantly, this same number later figured in the investigation of Semyon Mogilevich's YBM Magnex case.

According to the text of the charges, in November 2002 Mr. Mogilevich's principal partner, Igor Fisherman, gave this telephone number as his personal contact number when registering his car with Moscow's traffic police.

In 2002 Elmstad Trading Ltd. transferred its stake in Rinvey to three rather interesting ladies.

As a result, 34% of Rinvey went to Semyon Mogilevich's wife, Galina Telesh. This was the second instance of a link between Dmytro Firtash and the wife of the criminal boss.

Chart 2 )

Another 33% of Rinvey went to a certain Olga Zhunzhurova. According to the indictment brought by the court in Pennsylvania against Semyon Mogilevich, which Ukrayinska Pravda has at its disposal, Mrs. Zhunzhurova is the legal wife of Mogilevich's closest partner, Igor Fisherman.

The most interesting proved to be the fate of the third 33% block of shares in Rinvey. Ownership of this stake went to Dmytro Firtash's lawyer, Elena Yargina. Three years later, in an interview with the Financial Times (link to previously cited FT article), the co-owner of RosUkrEnergo admitted that Yargina became a co-owner of Rinvey at his direction.

When the correspondent asked him to explain why he had asked his lawyer to enter into a partnership with the wives of Semyon Mogilevich and Igor Fisherman, Dmytro Firtash said that "he could not remember (!) why he had asked her to do so."

According to information possessed by Ukrayinska Pravda, Elena Yargina remains Dmytro Firtash's lawyer.

It is clear that at Rinvey Mrs. Yargina represented the interests of her client, because according to the Unified State Register of Juridical Persons of the Russian Federation, as of February 2003 Elena Yargina's name was replaced on the list of co-owners of Rinvey by... Mariya Firtash (16%) and Dmytro Firtash (17%).

On Friday, Group DF issued a press release stating that Firtash sold his shares in Rinvey in June 2004 (link to: "Firtash Sold Shares That Had a Connection to Arbat-Prestizh," Ukrayinska Pravda, 1 February 2008, at: ). Three Myths About the Arrest of Semyon Mogilevich

Above all, the arrest of Semyon Mogilevich served as a demonstration by the Russian government. In contrast to Interpol and the FBI, the Moscow militia and special services were not searching for the Kyiv criminal boss. Everyone knew where he lived and the kind of life he led.

Mogilevich walked around the capital of Russia without bodyguards and without a large escort of Jeeps. If he or she so desired, any Ukrainian or Russian politician or businessman could meet with Mogilevich. The idea that he was eluding capture, which the Russian authorities insist on, is a myth.

Another myth, this one invented in Ukraine, is that Semyon Mogilevich was arrested in connection with RosUkrEnergo.

The presidential election is drawing close in Russia. According to one interpretation, the arrest of Semyon Mogilevich is the first act in the ascension of Dmitriy Medvedev to the Russian throne. In this context, some say that this is a fight against the future president, that this is a way to keep the successor, who is suspected of ties to Semyon Mogilevich, on a short leash. At the same time, other observers are sure that this was done in an attempt to whitewash Dmitriy Medvedev before the election.

One other half-myth, which some media outlets have begun to put out lately, is that Semyon Mogilevich was arrested so that he would testify against (Prime Minister) Yuliya Tymoshenko to be followed by the revival of the criminal case (against her) by the Russian Military Prosecutor's Office. This version does not hold water for one simple reason: to revive the case, Russia's Federal Security Service (FBS) did not need to arrest Semyon Mogilevich--all they had to do was to contact him and ask him to give them the necessary facts.

Semyon Mogilevich's arrest will affect the future visit of Yuliya Tymoshenko to Russia. Official Moscow, which persistently invited the prime minister, in contrast to Viktor Yushchenko, will certainly have much to say to the leader of BYuT. And Yuliya Tymoshenko lets no opportunity pass without alluding to the approaching end of the RosUkrEnergo monopoly.

Oct. 29, 2008 -- Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc member Vitaliy Danylov is said to be better known to some as "Danylo," head of the "Kievskaya" organized crime group and former member of Boris Savlokhov's or "Salokha's" (died 2004 ) old mob. He was forced to move house when the Savlokhov brothers accused him of ripping them off. For a long time Danylov hid Andrey Kozhemyakin (Bloc first deputy chairman) from the Kharkiv police, when they were examining the sale of the Mogilevich file stolen from a Ukrainian Secret Service facility. He has also been funding Kozhemyakin and his family out of his own pocket. (Danylov is also honorary director of the FK Kharkiv soccer club

Oct. 29, 2008 -- According to the Spanish police, Zakhar Kalashov, aka "Shakro Jr," currently in jail in Aranjuez, has been trying to influence high-ranking Spaniards as he awaits trial together with 11 accomplices. Kalashov, reputedly head of several Georgian criminalorganizations, including those that moved to Moscow, where he is one of theleaders of the "Solntsevo" and "Domodedovo" gangs, is a bigname virtually all over Russia and is well established in the CIS and the Baltic. The Kalashov mob has engaged in arms dealing, contract killings, smuggling,and laundering of massive sums of money from casinos in Russia controlled by Leon Lann (aka Leon Kaplan, reportedly co-owner of Moscow's Golden Palacecasino) and Konstantin Manukyan, who will be tried in absentia. According to the Swiss police, Kalashov also has a chunk of Lukoil.

October 29, 2008 -- AFP -- Israeli-Russian billionaire Arkady Gaydamak said on Wednesday he planned to testify at the trial of French politicians over the so-called Angola-gate arms deal scandal. "I am going to France after the municipal elections to tell the truth and to prove that this Angolagate affair is a fabrication," said Gaydamak. Top French politicians and officials are accused of violating a ban on selling arms to Angola in the 1990s, at the height of the southern African nation's civil war, and receiving received tens of millions in bribes. A total of 42 people, including Gaydamak, are on trial in the case which opened in Paris on October 6. Gaydamak, who is hoping to be elected mayor of Jerusalem in the November 11 municipal elections in Israel, is accused of shepherded shipments of 420 tanks, 150,000 shells, 12 helicopters and six warships over five years. "I have material proof that this fabrication was the work of (former French president Jacques) Chirac and his cronies to destabilise his political opponents," he told AFP. "I have nothing to fear because I am completely innocent and I am being accused groundlessly," said Gaydamak, who also holds Angolan, Canadian and French passports.

October 24, 2008 -- Evening Kazan. Tatarstan's "56th Block" ("56-y Kvartal") gang has finally gone down after a stop-start trial that began in February. Leaders Oleg Grinin and Vitaliy Chirkov each got 24 years in a penal colony. Andrey Prokofyev, Rinat Garifullin, Andrey Okonechnikov, Yevgeniy Filimonov, Sergey Dushkin, Igor Polikarpov,and Sergey Andreychev, all from Kazan, received 9-14 years. Nadezhda Kulkovaand Liliya Peshaya were found to have been accessories to murder, but not gangmembers and got nine years. They had all been responsible for murdering six members of rival gangs and for abducting the leader of the "Savinka" gang. The gang almost came unstuck during the investigation of the murder of one of its leaders, Boris Starkov. He had quit the underworld and become abusinessman, but according to former associates, he was no longer the"living the life," so four of them beat him up in a cafe and abductedhim. They were eventually convicted of "hooliganism"; their story wasthey had simply dumped Starkov by the road. The arrests began in earnest in 2005,after young members of the gang had attacked three Internal Affairs rapidreaction department officers chilling on a beach. The cops had stepped in to stop the drunken gangsters pestering a young woman.

October 21, 2008 -- Express Gazeta. Post-Soviet oligarchmanque Marat Balagula, 65, is back in Moscow after lying low for four yearsf ollowing a 15-year stretch for credit card fraud in the United States, where,in the eighties and nineties the authorities had shuddered at his name, placing him on a par with the notorious "Yaponchik." Balagula is staying with his old buddy, Yefim Nezhinskiy, who, incidentally, had been waiting for him in Africa, where Balagula had briefly sought refuge from the US courts and where the two of them got into diamond smuggling. Every day he goes to Nezhinskiy'soffice, where the two have meetings and then head off to a Georgian restaurant for supper. Balagula is not showy; his only luxuries are a diamond ring and gold bracelet. He sometimes turns up at the office with a young Tatarstani woman, which might suggest that the elderly lothario has recovered from the impotence that had supposedly afflicted him in his forties, when he controlled the gasoline trade in New York after taking over from his mentor, Brighton Beach top dog Yevsey Agron, whose savagery knew no bounds and who was eventually gunned down in the street. While running his protection racket, Balagula came across as the savior of the Jewish community, helping former compatriots to settle in. Many of them would pray for him and compare him to Robin Hood

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October 6 (Itar-Tass) -- Matters of extradition have been regulated in Russia fairly well, but double standards and the absence of the necessary legal basis with a number of states impede the work, said Chief of Interpol's National Central Bureau at the Russian Interior Ministry Major-General Timur Lakhonin in an interview with Itar-Tass on Monday. . . He mentioned notorious facts when Great Britain and a number of other countries refused to extradite Akhmed Zakayev wanted by Interpol since 2001, Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky. A similar incident took place in October 2007 when the Swedish authorities refused to extradite Russian citizen, resident of Chechnya Magomed Uspayev wanted by Interpol for abduction of Itar-Tass journalist Vladimir Yatsina who was killed in captivity.

Almaty EKSPRESS-K in Russian 4 Oct 08 -- An American scientist of Kazakh origin, Viktor Skormin, who arrived in Kazakhstan for his PhD research cannot fly back to the USA, because the Kazakh customs office accuses him of smuggling currency, Ilya Guk says.

Sept. 30, 2008 -- Independent On Line (S. Africa) -- Sapa -- Kidney scandal probe continues IOL. Investigations are continuing into the international kidney transplant trafficking scandal which allegedly involved St Augustine's Hospital and eight KwaZulu-Natal doctors, specialists and hospital staff. Charges were withdrawn against the doctors and Netcare transplant unit staff, who were charged with contraventions of the Human Tissues Act relating to 109 kidney operations allegedly performed at the hospital.
The state had not been ready to proceed with the trial at the time and the charges were provisionally withdrawn to allow time for investigations. A decision would be made in October as to "who can and cannot be prosecuted", said Advocate Robin Palmer, a law professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, who has been called in to prosecute the case. The initial charges against the nine accused involved allegations that a syndicate recruited kidney donors from Brazil, who were paid between $5 000 (about R40 000) and $20 000 for their organs. It was alleged that the kidneys were then transplanted to more than 100 patients at the hospital between 2001 and 2003. It is further claimed that false documentation declaring that the donors and recipients were blood relatives was used to "legalise" the operations. Palmer, SAPS Captain Louis Helberg, the project manager for the case, and Detective Inspector "Sups" Chetty, the investigating officer, recently travelled to Israel to take statements.

Sep. 28, 2008 -- Haaretz -- The Shin Bet security service and Jerusalem police have yet to locate suspects in the pipe bomb attack against left-wing Hebrew University professor Zeev Sternhell last week. Sternhell, an Israel Prize laureate and frequent Haaretz contributor, was lightly injured when a pipe bomb exploded outside his home in the capital. Sternhell is a vocal opponent of Israel's military and settlement activities in the West Bank . . . "From the moment I returned from the hospital my life has gone on exactly as it has before. I'll lock the door every evening against burglars, I'll continue to write what I always have, and preach what I preach," Sternhell said from his home Friday after returning from the hospital.

"If a simple citizen like me can't express his opinion, that means we're approaching the end of the road for democracy."

Sep. 23, 2008 --Athens To Vima in Greek -- Independent daily. (FBIS Translated Text) The Greek Government will not be getting away with having to make a diplomatic/political decision, after all; as the deadline for Vladimir Guzinsky's extradition was running out and time seemed to be on the government's side, the Russian authorities resubmitted their extradition request, triggering another round of pressure that is expected to mount to the last. The Russians' request--relayed yesterday via the Foreign Ministry--is essentially a replica of that submitted by the Russians to Spain two years ago; at the time, the Russians had asked for the extradition of the media mogul, on two charges: fraud and money laundering. The only difference between that request to Spain and the current one to Greece is this: the request to Spain had been "broken up" into two parts. The first part related to the charge of fraud; this was turned down by the Spanish High Court. The second count was money laundering; this charge was filed away without even having been reviewed by the salient Spanish courts. Now the Russians have sent Greece another request (which includes both charges), and sometime in the next few days the Appellate-Court Council (roughly similar to a grand jury) will be reviewing the case; under Greek law, the council has jurisdiction over extradition cases. Naturally there is some background to the Guzinsky affair. This was just the latest extradition request to be filed. As mentioned earlier, a similar request had been filed to Spain two years ago; the response was negative. At the time, in 2001, the rationale behind the decision was that political motive lay behind the Russian authorities' extradition request, and not any crimes Guzinsky may have committed. Therefore the Spanish High Court had turned down the Russians' request. The same thing had happened previously, when Israel also refused to extradite Guzinsky (who has both Russian and Israeli nationality). The United States also refused to extradite the media mogul. Both Israel and the United States had rejected the Russians' request on the grounds that it was politically motivated.

In fact, as this paper has reported, Interpol also turned down the extradition request; and Interpol's Secretary General Ronald Noble had emphasized the "predominantly political nature" of the request. Interpol then moved to strike the Guzinsky file from its records.

But a few weeks ago the Russian media mogul--who has lately been residing in Israel but also travels around the world (his permanent residence is in Spain)--was arrested at Athens' "Elevtherios Venizelos" airport on a Russian arrest warrant, which the government spokesman described as being "updated."

After arresting Guzinsky, the Greek authorities later decided to release him on bail, after a magistrate heard his case in court. The court also took into account the fact that all previous extradition requests had been turned down, for the same reason: the request is politically motivated.

We shall know soon enough what the Greek Government will do about this case; by then, the pressure on the government will mount, and diplomatic/political considerations will again resurface. Only this time round the government must give an answer.

Sept. 5, 2008 -- Asia Times -- By Mona Alami -- Israel continues to be a favorite destination for the trafficking of women for the sex industry - also known as the white slave trade - and for a form of modern slavery where migrant laborers from developing countries are exploited. The US State Department placed Israel in Tier 2 position in its 2007 Trafficking in Persons report . . . "Israel was only upgraded to Tier 2 last year," said Romm Lewkowicz, a spokesman from Israel's Hotline for Migrant Workers, an advocacy group which defends the rights of foreign workers. . ."Israel is no longer solely an importer of prostitutes but has become an exporter of them too. Last year we discovered a new business where Israeli women were being trafficked to the UK and Ireland to work in the sex industry," Lewkowicz said. . .According to the Jerusalem-based Task Force on Human Trafficking (TFHT), approximately 1,000 of the estimated 10,000 prostitutes in Israel are minors. Immigrants from the ex-Soviet bloc countries, some involved in the Russian mafia, manage about 20% of the trade, while the remainder are Israelis, says Lewkowicz.

Sept. 2, 2008 -- Ha'aretz -- By Jonathan Lis -- The 2003 testimony of Assi Vaknin, formerly one of the owners of the Roberto modeling agency, to agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency seemingly connects the Abergil crime family to alleged Ecstasy drug dealing in Los Angeles.

Vaknin, who left the U.S. after being suspected of various crimes, described the balance of forces between the Israeli crime families and the long history of murders between the organizations. He also claimed that senior Israel Police officials leaked information to the criminal organizations on investigations conducted against them in the U.S. "Yitzhak Abergil is responsible for the wave of violent confrontations between the crime families in Israel," Vaknin asserted in his testimony.

The DEA heard Vaknin's testimony on July 11, 2003 over the telephone after he had been deported to Israel. The conversation between Vaknin and three DEA agents was transcribed in a document revealed in the U.S. trial of Gabi Ben Harosh and Hai Vaknin, the so-called heads of the Jerusalem gang. Hai Vaknin, considered the senior member of the Abergil crime family in the U.S., is Assi's brother. Assi Vaknin told investigators that there was a warrant against him for violating the conditions of his bail in Los Angeles, and he is working through his lawyer to deal with the matter. Hai Vaknin and Ben Harosh in the end signed plea bargains . . .

In the months preceding his testimony, the Israel Police raided Vaknin's house a number of times. They were looking for weapons, drugs and evidence of money laundering. They also demanded information on the conflict between Ze'ev Rosenstein and Yitzhak Abergil, after he was visited at home by a number of people involved in the dispute between the two crime families.

Vaknin's detailed testimony takes up five pages. In it he tells of a battle being waged in Israel at the time between the three main crime families: Rosenstein, Abergil and Abutbul. The battle was over money and power, and focused in particular on casinos and other ways to make large profits.

Vaknin said Rosenstein and Abergil ran casinos in Prague and Armenia. In the end, it all came back to Israel, he told investigators, referring to the power struggles. The three groups fought each other just like the Italian crime families in New York, said Vaknin.

He told a story of Yitzhak Abergil, the central figure in his crime organization, who spent three months in Los Angeles. Vaknin said he thought the Israelis had taken control of L.A.'s Ecstasy market, and the battle between the three crime organizations might reach a full confrontation in the near future.

Vaknin also provided his investigators with information on the fraud at the Trade Bank, in which millions of dollars were laundered through U.S. bank accounts. He claimed that contractor Sasson Barashi was connected to the affair, and said Barashi was living in Los Angeles or Las Vegas. Barashi was convicted in Israel for his role in the Trade Bank affair and sentenced to 14 months in prison. He also appears as a defendant in the indictment issued a month ago in the U.S. against the Abergil brothers.

During his testimony, Vaknin described the chain of murders and attempted assassinations among the three crime families at the time, and accuses the Abergils' organization of responsibility for the wave of violence. The series of murders started with the murder of Felix Abutbul in Prague four months before Vaknin's testimony. Abergil attempted to take over, he explained.

Later Vaknin mentioned the murder of Micha Aslan, who was shot in Eilat in June 2003 by an unknown assassin. Aslan was considered one of the heads of the Jerusalem gang, and was involved in laundering the funds from the Trade Bank, an affair that is now also attributed to the Abergil family. Vaknin claimed Aslan was murdered when he attempted to mediate in the dispute between the Abergil and Rosenstein families. He also noted that a professional assassin from Russia was arrested for the Aslan murder.

Vaknin told the Americans that he had no faith whatsoever in the Israel Police, claiming that senior police officers regularly leaked sensitive information to the criminal organizations they were connected to.

August 27, 2008 -- Associated Press. "LOS ANGELES - A man suspected of being one of Israel's most powerful crime bosses is charged with using a Los Angeles gang to distribute a million Ecstasy pills and paying one of the gang's members to kill a man for stealing a large drug shipment.

Itzhak Abergil, who prosecutors believe is one of the largest importers of narcotics into the United States, is among seven men listed in a 32-count federal indictment that alleges murder and international drug trafficking.

Abergil and his brother Mier Abergil were arrested Sunday in Israel. They face extradition to Los Angeles, where Itzhak Abergil would be charged with murder and his brother with racketeering and conspiracy."

August 19, 2008 -- Maariv -- Ami Ben-David and Arik Weiss -- Yitzhaq Abergil could have become someone else's problem. Five years ago, Abergil, described by police as the head of the strongest crime organization in Israel, formed ties with government sources in Thailand. According to intelligence reports, his goal was to set up a drug trafficking network in the country and perhaps beyond as well. Had he succeeded, he might have cut back his activity in Israel, and even settled in Southeast Asia. Ironically, it is the Israel Police that reported the plan to the Thai, forcing the top offender to return home . . . Chief Superintendent Siso began to receive information that very senior officials in the Thai Government had warned Abergil of pending investigations against him. There was even information tying Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to the affair. (In 2006, Shinowatra was ousted from power in a coupe, among other things because of corruption charges directed against him.)

August 7, 2008 -- Le Monde -- Pascale Robert-Diard -- The committal for trial before the Paris criminal court of the 40 or so people accused being prosecuted in the Angolagate affair in many respects is reminiscent of the Elf affair. . . A parallel diplomacy then takes shape, with, in order of entry onto the stage, the older son of the president, Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, a former member of the Africa unit of the Elysee (the president's office), who undertakes to establish a link between the Angolan president and the businessman Pierre Falcone, who in turn has close ties with Jean-Charles Marchiani, the adviser to Interior Minister Charles Pasqua. An arms delivery contract is concluded in 1994 between Falcone's company, Brenco, and Angola, for a sum of $4 billion via a Slovak company, of which Arkady Gaydamak, former KGB colonel turned businessman, is one of the representatives. . . In 2001, after the episodes that will reveal this traffic, the Defense Ministry files a complaint. The investigation runs into shell companies. Fortunately, at Brenco there is a conscientious collaborator, Isabelle Delubac. During a search of her home the investigators find 26 computer diskettes containing all the "memos" drafted for her boss. Mr Falcone pays her, besides a salary of 10,000 francs per month, doubled in cash, a "gift" of 6,500,000 francs for the purchase of her residence. Her silence is valuable. Established in a private hotel on avenue Kleber in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, outfitted with beautiful receptionists, the Brenco offices receive regular visitors. When Jean-Christophe Mitterrand, Jean-Charles Marchiani, the writer Paul-Loup Sulitzer, or the director general of RMC, Jean-Noel Tassez, are announced, the ritual is always the same. Isabelle Delubac goes down to the basement, where cash is stored, and fills envelopes, not forgetting to note on her famous "memos" the sometimes-coded initials of the beneficiaries as well as the date and the amount given. The plastic bags from "Galilee". A phone call from Ms Delubac, a request for "500, urgent," and Samuel Mandelsaft, an old friend of Mr Falcone nicknamed "Galilee" in the memos, hastens to arrive at avenue Kleber with a plastic bag. The investigation will show that he was in charge of a money laundering network between France and Israel. But a few days from the first summons of Pierre Falcone by the financial squad, in November 2000, Mr Mandelsaft disappears. The last purchase recorded on his credit card is a one-way ticket Paris-Tel Aviv . . . In July 1996, at Toulon, Arkady Gaydamak receives from Jean-Charles Marchiani, at that time prefect of Var, and in the presence of Mr Falcone, the insignia of knight of the Ordre du merite. This decoration, requested by the chairman of the general council of Hauts-de-Seine Charles Pasqua from President Jacques Chirac on the grounds of the role played by Mr Gaydamak in the liberation of the French pilots held hostage in Bosnia, was curiously placed on the quota of the Agriculture Ministry. No character check was done on the fortunate beneficiary, which renseignements generaux (General Intelligence) described as "one of the intermediaries of the Russian mafia in our country." The same month, the association France Afrique Orient, a backer of Charles Pasqua's Demain la France movement, receives 1,500,000 francs from Brenco.

Aug. 1, 2008 -- ITAR-TASS - The Moscow City Court has sentenced in absentia former Yukos co-owner Leonid Nevzlin to life in jail. The court found him guilty of organizing several murders and assaults. The court also partially upheld lawsuits of plaintiffs and ordered to collect about 4.5 million rubles from Nevzlin. The hearing was held in absentia, as Nevzlin had been naturalized and took residence in Israel.

July 31, 2008 -- Jerusalem Post -- Yaakov Lappin And Etgar Lefkovits -- Police have decided to launch a new votes-for-money investigation into billionaire tycoon Arkadi Gaydamak hours after he formally announced his candidacy for the Jerusalem mayoralty on Wednesday. The investigation will be headed by the National Fraud Unit and was opened following a complaint received by the Movement for Quality Government which claimed Gaydamak had handed out cash-filled envelopes in his home while declaring Next year in the Jerusalem municipality.

July 31, 2008 -- Russian Press Digest quoting RBC Daily, Moscow - Russia's fugitive tycoon Boris Berezovsky could face fresh charges of embezzling funds from Russia's flagship air carrier Aeroflot. The paper writes, citing a source in the national airline, that prosecutors had completed an inquiry into illegal transactions involving $200-$300 million of Aeroflot revenues in 1996-1999 via the Swiss-based firm Forus Services SA. Berezovskyand then-Aeroflot deputy general director Nikolai Glushkov were shareholders in Andava. Glushkov, who like Berezovsky currently lives in London, was also charged with transferring over $250 million of the carrier's foreign receivables to Andava, which charged exorbitant fees for cash management services.

July 24, 2008 -- Gazeta, Moscow - Prosecutors want life sentence for former YUKOS' co-owner Nevzlin. Prosecutors on Wednesday demanded life imprisonment for former Yukos co-owner Leonid Nevzlin, who is being tried in absentia on multiple murder charges dating back to the late 1990s. Nevzlin, who fled to Israel in 2003, faces 11 charges, including murder and attempted murder, following a four-year investigation led by the Prosecutor General's Office . . . Nevzlin has dismissed the charges as baseless and politically motivated. His Israel-based spokesman, Eric Wolf, described the trial as "one monstrous breach of human rights." "The case is fabricated and a clear-cut example of political persecution," Wolf said Wednesday. In May, Israel's Supreme Court of Justice upheld Nevzlin's citizenship and ruled that the Russian charges are groundless. Nevzlin is charged with ordering the killing of several business executives and officials from 1998 to 2004, and his trial is closely linked to that of Alexei Pichugin, the oil firm's former security chief, who was jailed for life last August on charges of involvement in the same murders. According to the charges, Nevzlin is accused of being behind the killing of Valentina Korneyeva, a Moscow businesswoman, and Vladimir Petukhov, the mayor of Nefteyugansk.

July 23, 2008 -- Baltic Times -- LATVIA 'EUROPE'S CRIME CAPITAL'. Latvia has the highest crime rate in the EU and the second highest in Europe, according to a recent report. In a report titled "Europe's Crime Capitals," Forbes business magazine claimed that only Turkey has a higher crime rate than the Baltic state. Forbes said that it determined the ranking based on information from Eurostat, the EU's leading statistics office. The magazine used measurements of "total crime," which includes all offenses against the penal (or criminal) code. The report covered both EU member states and candidate countries such as Turkey and Croatia.

July 9, 2008 - South China Morning Post - Deripaska plans to offer 25pc of SMR shares in Hong Kong float, by Nigel Rosser in London. Russia's richest man Oleg Deripaska has announced plans for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong stock exchange for his firm SMR, which owns his mineral assets. Mr Deripaska plans to float at least 25 per cent of the firm's shares in Hong Kong, after declaring the territory offered fewer "legal" difficulties than floating in London . . . Mr Deripaska, who amassed a $28US billion fortune during Russia's "aluminium wars", says Hong Kong was "less regulated" than the London Stock Exchange.Cur rently banned from entering the United States because of alleged links to the Russian mafia - which he denies - Mr Deripaska became rich after taking control of his lucrative local aluminium smelter in the early 1990s and ferociously defending it against all-comers."

July 9, 2008 -- Moscow Vremya Novostey -- The largest Russian congregation of thieves in recent years has been thwarted by operatives from the MVD Main Directorate for the Central Federal District, it has become known to Vremya Novostey. Around 40 godfathers of crime gathered on Monday on a pleasure boat in the center of the capital. However, they did not manage to have a peaceful talk about their mournful affairs. First, special-purpose fighters took the river boat by storm, and then they had to carry out a rescue operation in the water when some of the godfathers overboard. Everything ended favorably, it is true, and no-one drowned. Officially MVD staff put the storming of the pleasure boat down to the need for a "document check." The aim of such an exotic check of the rules of observing the passport system was self-explanatory. The authoritative kingpin Tariel Oniani ended up among those detained. He and all the arrested individuals were taken to the MVD Main Directorate for the Central Federal District on Shabolovka, and narcotics were found on many of the crime boss's associates. The detained Tariel Oniani is known as one of the most influential Georgian crime bosses, acting on an international level. . . . The name of this person has been mentioned more than once since the beginning of the 1990s in connection with large-scale investigations by the special services of various countries in the world. The last time, in 2005, the Spanish police, who were conducting a large-scale operation against the "Russian mafia" under the code name Wasp, took an interest in him. Several dozen citizens of Georgia, Russia, Ukraine, and Israel who, according to a report by the Spanish authorities, were members of the criminal community engaged in money-laundering, were then detained.

July 5, 2008 - The Times of London - Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, has admitted agreeing to pay billions of dollars for political favours and protection fees to get his hands on the former Soviet Union's mineral wealth. Mr Abramovich paid older oligarchs so that he could obtain a big share of Russia's oil and aluminium assets and to escape unscathed from the deadly postcommunist carve-up. He famously emerged triumphant after the "aluminium wars", in which more than 100 people believed to have been killed in gangland feuds over control of the lucrative smelters. He avoided the fate of a rival oligarch who annoyed the Kremlin and ended up being transported to jail in Siberia for ten years."

June 27, 2008 -- -- The defense for Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of the YUKOS oil company, who was convicted in 2005 of embezzlement and tax evasion, has prepared a statement containing a request to free him on parole . . . Khodorkovsky and MENATEP Group head Platon Lebedev were sentenced to eight years' imprisonment each in 2005. They were transferred from the prison colony to the holding facility in Chita in December 2006 by order of the Russian General Prosecutor's Office for the investigation of a new case involving money laundering. In the second case, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev are accused of laundering 450 billion rubles and $7.5 billion between 1998 and 2004, in connection with the embezzlement of stock belonging to the state, misappropriation of oil and laundering of funds received from its sale.

June 26, 2008 - Belapan, Minsk -- American lawyer Emanuel Zeltser can die if he is further denied vital medical drugs, certified an American doctor who examined the man today. Mr Zeltser and his secretary Vladlena Funk were arrested upon their arrival in Minsk on 12 March. The two were put into the KGB detention center and charged with using fake documents.On 27 May, he was charged with drug smuggling over medications that he brought into Belarus. Mark Zeltser, the brother of the laywer, claims that self-exiled Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky orchestrated the arrest of Mr Zeltser over the assets of the late Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili.

June 26, 2008 - AFP, Windhoek -- A Namibian court Thursday postponed until September 17 the extradition hearing of fugitive American-Israeli millionaire Jacob "Kobi" Alexander, who is wanted by the United States on 35 fraud charges. Alexander, 55, has been battling extradition for almost two years. "I postpone the case to September 17 because we wait for a high court judgement on a constitutional challenge Alexander filed in the high court," Magistrate Petrus Unengu said. Alexander, who founded Comverse Technology in 1982, is wanted in the United States for allegedly masterminding a scheme to pocket gains by manipulating stock options which earned him millions of dollars. \

June 23, 2008 -- Russian Press Digest/Interfax/NEWSruIsrael -- Federal Security Service's regional department in the Arkhangelsk Region (Northwest Federal District) together with the FSB's federal bodies "localized the threat" of Russia's losing jurisdiction over the Verkhotina diamond deposit. The department's news release, prepared to mark its 95th anniversary, says that the FSB investigative directorate currently investigates a criminal case against an Israeli citizen, who had fraudulently attempted to re-register the license. The department didn't identify the suspect, while the Israel's Foreign Ministry refused to comment on the report, NEWSruIsrael writes.

June 21, 2008 -- Irish Times -- Traffickers may have brought minors here. Two unaccompanied minors who may have been brought to Ireland by human traffickers were remanded in custody in separate cases at the Dublin Children s Court yesterday, pending a Garda inquiry into their backgrounds. The boys, from Vietnam and Moldova, are in Ireland without their parents or credible identity documents. They face being held in custody in St Patrick's Institution on criminal charges. Boy B, the Moldovan, also thought to be aged 16 and bilingual in Romanian and Russian, came to Ireland via Kerry Airport with a forged Israeli passport and gave gardaí fictitious addresses in Dublin. An identity card allegedly belonging to him was sent to court by a man who will only answer phone calls from specific numbers which he recognizes.

June 13, 2008 -- Jerusalem Post -- Did jealous millionaire order hit on TA lawyer? Tel Aviv Police detectives are looking into the possibility that a jealous Russian-Israeli multimillionaire who cannot be named due to a court gag order contracted "a hit" on Yoram Hacham 53 the senior criminal lawyer killed in a Tel Aviv car bombing on Wednesday evening. The tycoon had previously accused Hacham of conducting an affair with his wife . . . In 2007 the unnamed Russian Israeli sued Hacham for NIS 3.5 million alleging that the lawyer was conducting an affair with his wife and had stolen approximately NIS 500 0 . . . According to the lawsuit the tycoon hired Hacham in 2005 to represent him. During one meeting Hacham allegedly proposed that the millionaire become involved in a property deal in the Turkish part of Cyprus. . The lawyer represented figures who were reportedly on opposite sides of a long-standing mafia war; in recent years, the Alperon and Abergeil families allegedly united in a battle for control over the black market and gambling industries. They were taken on by Ze'ev Rosenstein (now in Ayalon Prison), who joined forces with the Abutbul family. A series of bombs, shootings and LAW missiles killed several people during that mob feud.

June 10, 2008 -- ITAR-TASS -- Russian law-enforcement bodies will have direct access to Interpol databases this year, head of the national central bureau of the Interpol (NTsB) under the Russian Interior Ministry Timor Lakhonin told reporters on Tuesday". . . The list of countries to which criminals flee from Russian justice has been expanding. Last year, we completed extradition procedures with the Dominican Republic, Iraq, Ecuador and Israel, we now have information that one of the suspects is in Fiji, but this report is being checked," according to Lakhonin. On Tuesday, representative of the Russian Interpol Bureau (NTsB) Tatyana Trunayeva said it had no information if the paintings Moldova is set to hand over to Russia, have been on the international wanted list. The NTsB has no photos of the pictures, which were found in Moldova and which will be passed to Russia, Trunayeva said. "There was information that those were pictures by Polenov and Johansson; the Interpol is looking for three Polenov pictures, two of which were stolen from private collections in Moscow, and one, according to unconfirmed reports, was stolen from a Grozny museum," she said. Police found two pictures in Chisinau during a special operation in the city to prevent their illegal sale. The theft of more than two hundred canvasses from Russia's Hermitage museum was established in the summer of 2006, during a routine inventory check. A total of 226 museum exhibits worth more than 140 million roubles had been missing from Hermitage for several years, according to investigators. Shortly thereafter, police detained a suspect, Nikolai Zavadsky, former husband of a late museum keeper. Zavadsky was convicted for theft of 77 museum exhibits from the Hermitage Jewelry department in March 2007. The late keeper involved in theft was a second suspect in the criminal case. Criminal proceedings were dropped against suspect Ivan Sobolev under the Statute of Limitations. Some of the valuables were found later, but the fate of dozens of stolen museum exhibits remains unknown to the present day.

May 29, 2008 -- Washington Times -- U.S., Israel seize money; Gather cash, gold in probe. Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), working with their Israeli law enforcement counterparts in Israel and at U.S. airports, have seized nearly $500,000 in cash, negotiable checks, gold and diamonds in an investigation into the illicit movement of currency. The seizures, part of a law-enforcement initiative known as "Hands Across the World," also resulted in the arrest of Silvia Joseph, 39, from Argentina, who was apprehended as she tried to leave Newark (N.J.) Liberty International Airport without declaring $130,145 in currency. Miss Joseph now faces a federal criminal charge for failing to report the international movement of currency exceeding $10,000. CBP officers discovered the U.S. currency concealed in her carry-on luggage on a flight destined for Tel Aviv . . In a separate seizure, CBP officers seized $59,060 in bulk cash and negotiable checks at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport from an Israeli man en route to Tel Aviv.

April 28, 2008 -- Israel Business Arena - Arcadi Gaydamak has asked the Tel Aviv District Court to dismiss two lawsuits filed against him by Roni Maneh. Gaydamak claims that the remedies sought by Maneh indicate that the actual claims are larger than the amounts stated in the statement of claim, and which were the basis for paying court fees. Gaydamak says that Maneh is trying to avoid paying the full fees inherent in his lawsuit.

April 14, 2008 -- ITAR-TASS -- Italy extradites to Russia two persons who had been on the wanted list of the Interpol. 77-yeasr old citizen of Russia and Israel Mikhail Pombrik will be taken to Moscow . . . He was wanted by the Rostov region's interior agency from 2004 on charges of contraband of cultural values. In May 2007 he was arrested in Italy where he had arrived from Israel. Despite his advanced age, he was apparently quite strong physically, as shortly before being arrested by the Italian authorities he had served the two-year prison term in Israel for causing severe bodily harm, the Interpol's National Central Bureau reports.

April 11, 2008 -- ITAR-TASS - The Russian Prosecutor General's Office views the first transfer of a suspect from Israel over a long time as a token of successful law enforcement cooperation. "It is to say that the Israeli state has met the first extradition request of the Russian Prosecutor General's Office in a long time. Thus, we can view this transfer as a token of further successful cooperation between law enforcers of the two countries," the office said. The day before Israel transferred Alexander Levin, who is suspected of killing a married couple in Russia's Belgorod region. According to detectives, "Alexander Levin and a number of other individuals assaulted the Kovalenko family in the Belgorod region and killed them in January 2001. They also stole over 115,000 rubles worth of property from the couple's house." The suspect is a citizen of Israel which usually turns down extradition requests.

March 25, 2008 -- ITAR-TASS - RF investigator regrets Britain not assist to investigation in RF. The chief of the Investigation Committee under the Prosecutor General's Office, Alexander Bastrykin, regrets that the British authorities do not assist to the Russian investigation. the chief of the Investigation Committee did not dwell on the investigation into the cases against business tycoon Boris Berezovsky and other people wanted in Russia, but presently staying in Britain.

March 13, 2008 -- Moscow Times -- Israeli Arms Suspect Loses Extradition Appeal. A Moscow court has ordered the extradition of a controversial Israeli businessman and former army officer to Colombia, where he faces a jail sentence for training right-wing paramilitary forces. Yair Klein, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Israeli army, was detained at Domodedovo Airport last August as he was about to board a plane to Israel. A spokeswoman for the Moscow City Court confirmed that it had approved on Tuesday an earlier decision by the Prosecutor General's Office to extradite Klein. Tried and convicted in absentia in Colombia in 2001, Klein faces a 10-year jail term for training paramilitary groups involved with terrorist activities in the South American country in the late 1980s. In 1991, an Israeli court convicted and fined him for selling arms to Colombian paramilitary forces, and he has also spent 16 months in a Sierra Leone jail over his involvement in a guns-for-diamonds deal.

January 30, 2008 -- ITAR-TASS. Russian law enforcement agencies have no plans to extradite businessman Semyon Shnaider detained in Moscow to the United States. "A relevant inquiry from the American side has already been received," a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry's Main Directorate for the Central Federal District, Anzhela Kastuyeva, said on Wednesday. "But Semyon Mogilevich is a citizen of the Russian Federation and we have no intention to extradite him," she said . . . Mogilevich was included in the FBI wanted list as long ago as in 2003. U.S. police were on a hunt for him for racket, fraud, money laundering and other financial crimes . . . Mogilevich is accused of involvement in the fraud against investors of the YMB Company, which is registered in Canada with headquarters in Newton, Pennsylvania. According to American investigation sources, investors lost more than 150 million U.S. dollars as a result of Mogilevich's activities. The criminal scheme worked out by him collapsed in May 1998, when warrants were issued for searches in the company's representative offices in Pennsylvania and the sale of YMB shares was stopped on the stock exchange in Ontario. The federal indictment of 45 counts, including racket, securities fraud, money laundering and others, against Mogilevich and his accomplices was issued in Pennsylvania on April 24, 2003. Four photographs of Mogilevich made in 2000-2001 with the comments that he is armed and dangerous and may attempt to escape if detained are posted on the FBI website.

January 28, 2008 -- ITAR-TASS -- Businessman Sergei Shnaider, aka Semyon Mogilevich, wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Vladimir Nekrasov, the owner of the Arbat Prestige retail perfume chain, will be charged with tax evasion on January 30, the latter's lawyer Alexander Dobryanskyu said on Monday. "Today we were informed to come to the pre-trial detention centre on January 30 so that the investigators could bring official charges against our defenders," Dobryansky said. Shnaider's lawyer Alexander Pogonchikov said his "defendant is being kept in the closed part of the Matrosskaya Tishina investigation prison".Shnaider, nicknamed "Brainy Don", who was detained in Moscow on Wednesday evening, was sought by police of a number of countries over grave crimes, an informed Moscow police source told Itar-Tass . . . Mogilevich was called a person with seven faces. He migrated from one country to another, escaping justice. He has citizenship of several countries, including Russia, Israel and Hungary

January 28, 2008 -- ITAR-TASS -- Investigators and defenders of lawyer Olga Shnaider, former wife of businessman Semyon Mogilevich who is wanted by police in Russia and several other countries, said they were not award of her whereabouts."We are waiting for any information concerning her whereabouts, and no arrest warrant for her has been issued," her lawyer Yevgeny Shcheglov, adding that her relatives were not aware of where she is.

January 28, 2008 -- ITAR-TASS - The Hungarian embassy in Russia has denied that businessman Semyon Mogilevich, who was detained in Moscow as wanted for crimes in Russia, Ukraine, Israel and the United States, was a Hungarian citizen. The embassy said that Semyon Mogilevich lived on the territory of Hungary as a businessman because he had a residence permit, but he had never been given Hungarian citizenship, the embassy said. Law enforcement bodies persecute Mogilevich as a suspect in large- scale fraud, money laundering, racket, weapons trafficking and illegal gas deals, which is by far not a full list of claims laid on Mogilevich by foreign law enforcement bodies. Today, Mogilevich belongs to a group of five top criminal figures in the world, experts said . . . Mogilevich had been on the wanted list for almost 20 years during which he changed around 17 names and surnames, with Semyon Schneider being the last one, a police source said. In recent years Mogilevich had been moving from one country to another in a bid to escape justice. He has citizenship of several countries.

January 16, 2008 -- National Post, Toronto --Sex slaves 'hidden,' police say; Women lured into prostitution, officer alleges. Police who busted an alleged international human trafficking ring that lured Eastern European women to Toronto and forced them into prostitution say they strongly suspect as many as 10 other victims connected to the ring are "hidden" in the area . . . Police first learned of the alleged operation on Jan. 10, when a Romanian woman was able to escape to downtown 52 Division. She told investigators there that she had come to Canada in October under the pretense that she would become a model but instead became a sex slave, working as a high-end call girl. After investigating, police identified another alleged victim, a Russian who had been living in Toronto since March. Det-Sgt. Ervick said the second victim was reluctant to speak to investigators at first because she feared that she would be deported or harmed. Both women, who knew of one another, entered the country using fake Israeli passports, Det-Sgt. Ervick alleged . . . Artur Boris Tomchin, 35, of Toronto, his wife Volha Vechar, Andrei Khazarov, 39, of Thornhill and Daniel Leshinsky, 38, of Thornhill face numerous charges, including trafficking in persons, exploitation and procuring a person to become a prostitute.

October 9, Baltic News Service. The Harju country court on Tuesday rejected an a application to release from under arrest an Israeli national being tried in connection with the smuggling of a large haul of cocaine into Estonia. The court rejected the application for the release of 44-year-old Nahum Yaron Kahana. Also Public Prosecutor Andres Ulviste was categorically against the release, court spokespeople said. The other Israeli nationals being tried in connection with the same offense are Meir Shushan, 37, and Shimon Yaloz, 34, who are also kept under arrest. Initially also a fourth Israeli, Moshe Moris Benyamin, 63, was tried as part of the same proceeding. Yet he suffered a brain stroke while in custody and was released. He has been taken by relatives to Israel. Since Benyamin is unable to stand trial because of his bad health, the materials concerning him have been separated from the case

Oct. 20-21, 2007 -- Prague Pravo -- US-wanted Israeli drug mafia boss Nisim Reuven sentenced to six years in prison.

June 20, 2007 -- Reuters - A US executive went on trial in Kazakhstan last Friday charged with stealing money from a local company he used to manage, a case that some observers say raises concerns for foreign investors in the Central Asian country. Menachem Seidenfeld, 38, has been charged with the theft of 3.4 million tenge (about US$27,000) while buying equipment for telecommunications company Arna. The sum has been reduced from an initial figure of $40,000 . . . He was arrested in December 2005 in Russia, where he worked as mergers and acquisitions director for Golden Telecom and extradited to Kazakhstan last year. He has said in media interviews he believes the case was brought in retaliation for his insistence on selling a large stake in Arna through an open auction.

March 14, 2007 -- ITAR-TASS -- Ukrainian Deputy Prosecutor General Renat Kuzmin said that ex-interior minister Yuri Lutsenko, a leader of People's Self-Defence movement, has Israeli citizenship. "We have got copy of a document signed by officials of the Israeli Interior Ministry, where it is stated that Lutsenko is a citizen of Israel since 1999," Kuzmin said on Inter television. Doubled citizenship is banned in Ukraine. Kuzmin said that the document "indicated Lutsenko's address, a number of his registration certificate and grounds on which he received citizenship". The Prosecutor General's Office has sent inquiries to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Interpol and the Israeli Interior Ministry for checking this information, Kuzmin said. Kuzmin also said that a criminal case was opened against Lutsenko for his illegally issuing of firearms.

November 3, 2006 -- ITAR TASS -- The US Secret Service jointly with the colleagues from Russia and Georgia is investigating in Israel the case of counterfeiting US dollars the traces of which lead to the Caucasus, it is said in a joint report of the service, US Department of the Treasury and Federal Reserve System on the use and counterfeiting of the American banknotes outside the United States. According to the document, the US Secret Service has reasons to believe that a certain series of forged banknotes (C-21558) is manufactured in the Caucasus region. The service has data suggesting that suspects in Israel, Russia and Georgia are involved in the criminal scheme. The high-quality counterfeited banknotes had been spotted for the first time in Jerusalem in March 1999, it is said in the report. Since then a total of 23 million fake dollars have been confiscated in the world. The counterfeited dollars presence in the United States was registered to be growing from 1.5 million in 2003 to 5.3 million two years later. Their presence was observed mainly in the 'North-East corridor' from Buffalo (NY) to Baltimore (MD).

In an illustrative verdict, in which the court in London permitted Deripaska to receive the chart sheet outside the boundaries of the United Kingdom, Justice Christopher Clarke reviewed the activities of Chernoy and his associates, whom various global intelligence bodies had describes as Russian crime kingpins. One of the names on that list is Sergey Popov, whom the National Serious and International Crimes Unit (NSICU) and other Western law-enforcement agencies described as one of the leaders of the Podolsk crime gang, which is considered one of the largest and most violent in Moscow. The court described that gang as running most of the sex and drug trafficking on the streets of Moscow. Popov had previously been one of Chernoy's business partners. When Chernoy was detained in Geneva in 1996, the Swiss police also found Popov in the same hotel. One of Chernoy's closest friends was a Jew called Anton Malevskiy, who was described as the linchpin of the Russian Ismailova crime gang -- an international Russian group that specializes in collecting protection money, extortion, and mercenary liquidations. Malevskiy, whose face is scarred by a huge gash and half of whose left ear has been torn off, immigrated to Israel -- like Chernoy -- in the mid-1990's. The two purchased adjacent villas in Savyon and used to show up in social eve . . . In 1995, two private investigators from Tel Aviv, who had plotted to liquidate Chernoy, Malevskiy, and another friend of theirs, Moshe Hayimov (whose son Elisha was Chernoy's personal aide), were arrested. Chernoy maintained at the time that he had no idea who was looking to kill him . . . [In 1998] Malevskiy was deported and his Israeli citizenship was rescinded. Approximately two years later, he was killed in a freak accident during vacation in South Africa, after the parachute that he tried to eject with failed to open . . . Some of Chernoy's acquaintances, among them Malevskiy, Salim Abdulov (who is regarded as one of the chief gangsters in Uzbekistan), Sergey Lalkin (the head of the Podolskiy criminal organization), coal czar Iskandar Makhmudov (a former KGB agent in Libya), and our friend Sergey Popov -- used to come to sun-washed Israel once or twice a year for a vacation Chernoy had organized for them. The indictment filed against Oleg Chernomoretz, the deputy mayor of Elat from Yisra'el Beytenu, stated that Chernoy would rent for them entire floors in Elat's most stylish hotels and provided sumptuous entertainment, too . . . [In 2001] Chernoy began to prefer the society of top economy and political figures, such as Dudi Appel, who came to Chernoy in 2000 with a request for a $4.5 million loan toward the resumption of the stuck Greek island project. Chernoy gave him the check without thinking twice and did not even sign a contract with him. Appel evidently knew how to impress the oligarch: One day, he went into his office and invited him for lunch at Arik's. A few hours later, they were already dining at Ari'el Sharon's table on the farm. He also had the right ties to Gad Ze'evi. According to an associate of the two, in one of their joint trips abroad, Chernoy suggested that Ze'evi purchase the Betar Jerusalem soccer club. Chernoy was then the owner of Levski Sofia, one of Bulgaria's top teams. Ze'evi was turned on and bought the team through the mediation of then Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert . . . As Gidi Weitz and Uri Blau disclosed in Ha'aretz, the investigation focuses on the transfer of money from Cyprus to Israel, including, among others, $500,000 that had been traded between MCG Holdings, owned by Chernoy, and Mountain View Assets, which is owned by Lieberman. The transfer was apparently done in 2001, when Lieberman served as national infrastructure minister in the Sharon government. Lieberman's attorney argued that this was payment for a "wine deal" between the two; the NSICU suspect that this was kickback . . .There are additional suspicious payments connected to companies owned by Lieberman and his daughter Mikhal. The NSICU is now checking the source of the millions of shekels for the companies Mikhal Lieberman established when she was only 21 for "business counseling." In November 2007, during a discussion over immunity for documents that had been caught at Lieberman's attorney's office, Judge Rahel Greenberg said: "As mentioned earlier, the comprehensive confidential report presents a foundation based on facts that links the minister to the (Cyprus-based) Trasimeno Trading Ltd.'s bank accounts as well as to the bank accounts of other companies . . .

Chernoy, David and Lev's older brother, was born in 1952 in Ouman, the Ukraine. Two years after his birth, the family moved to Uzbekistan, where he grew up. After completing his military service and studies, he met Sam Kislin, a Russian emigre who was living in the United States, and who, in the late 1980's, imported all and sundry goods into the Eastern Bloc, which had just opened to the West . . . Kislin, a Jew who had donated quite substantially to Israel (and after whom the library at the Sapir Academic College in Sha'ar Hanegev was named until not long ago), currently resides in New York, where Kalitin tracked him down and interviewed him for his book . . . Shortly after Kislin's return to the United States, the brothers Chernoy found other partners: the Jewish brothers David and Simon Reuben. Together, the four set up Transworld Group, a huge conglomerate that soon eliminated its rivals and ruled the entire Russian aluminum market . . .On 9 June 1994, Chernoy was denied entry into Switzerland or Liechtenstein for two years {after his arrest in Switzerland] . . . The police tracked Chernoy for three years, waiting patiently, until in 2001 he and his aide Ze'ev Rom and businessman Gad Ze'evi were detained. The Bezeq affair, as part of which Chernoy was charged of having concealed his involvement in Ze'evi's purchase of some of the communication company's shares (because his record would not have enabled him to obtain license from the state to carry out the deal), blew up with a big bang. The file, which was dubbed "Black Spider," is admittedly progressing slowly, but a senior police officer has explained that "this affair stressed a lot of people, including in the Shin Bet." "It is not a trivial thing for a man like Chernoy to control the shares of the country's phone company" . . . In the current political situation, police sources estimate that it would not be easy to continue to follow the oligarch. "Even if the police have material about him, when the new interior minister is Yisra'el Beytenu's Yitzhaq Aharonovich, then it is doubtful anyone would launch a new investigation," maintains a very high-ranking officer in the police . . . As part of his activity in Israel, Chernoy has been financing various events attended by Israeli politicians, such as the Jerusalem Conference, which was addressed by Ehud Olmert, Binyamin Netanyahu, and Lieberman. Quite a few politicians also attend events initiated by the Mikhail Chernoy Foundation. The foundation's website includes pictures of Hayim Ramon, Olmert, and Lieberman, as well as information and reports from the world that present Chernoy as a victim of business and political persecution . . . "The information that reached the Israel Police indicates Chernoy's involvement in a series of murder cases, attempted assassinations, violence, and threats against the backdrop of 'the aluminum wars.' Specifically, we can cite information indicating his apparent involvement in the killings, perpetrated between the years 1993 and 1995, of the following victims: Igor Beletzky, Yuriy Karetnikov, Aleksandr Borisov, Feliks Lvov, and Vadim Yafyasov. There is also information on his involvement in plotting to kill Ivan Turishev....According to the information that was brought before me, the assassination and violence acts did actually take place, mainly through the Ismailova crime gang, led by Anton Malevskiy.

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