Jailed Russian Businessman Goes Online to Protest Innocence

Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky, who is currently being held in pretrial detention in Preah Sihanouk province, took to social media yesterday to protest his innocence over charges of intentional violence.

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Russian ex-billionaire Sergei Polonksy in a picture posted on his Facebook page from Cambodia. (Facebook)

Mr. Polonsky, 40, and two other Russian men were charged last week after an incident at sea on December 30. Military police say the Russians violently ejected six Cambodians from a boat and subsequently tried to evade capture.

In a message posted in Russian yesterday on his public Facebook page and his Twitter account, Mr. Polonsky said he “Will seek an investigation of the prosecution,” presumably over his detention by the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court.

“[I] could have gone free after 15 minutes if I had pleaded guilty,” he said in the message, adding that he should be “fully acquitted because of what happened.”

A statement on Sunday through a London-based public relations firm also gave a contradictory version of the incident and put the arrest largely down to communication problems between the Russians and Cambodians after fireworks he had ignited attracted attention from a nearby military base.

Provincial court director Mong Mony Chakrya said the case was still under investigation and a court date is yet to be set.

Mr. Polonsky, once one of the richest men in Russia as the owner of real-estate firm Mirax, has since renamed his company Potok and, in recent months, retreated to Koh Dek Kuol, a tiny, privately owned island off the coast of Sihanoukville.

The Russian Interior Ministry announced in late September that it is investigating his company for alleged fraud, and disgruntled investors in a Moscow real estate project are calling for the Russian authorities to seek Mr. Polonsky’s extradition.

Ostap Doroshenko, a member of the family that owns the Snake House Restaurant and Hotel in Sihanoukville, said yesterday that he and his father, Nikolai Doroshenko, were “partners” with Mr. Polonsky in the ownership of the island, on which they have built a luxury resort.

“I think it [Mr. Polonsky’s predicament] will be OK,” Mr. Doroshenko said. “I think in not a long time, it will be fixed.”

Since early October, Mr. Polonsky has been posting photographs from Cambodia on social media.

In the most recent post on his English-language blog in October, Mr. Polonsky, addressed allegations that he had run out of cash.

“Indeed, the valuation of the company was from $4.5 to 8 billion. And now, from the point of view of what was before and what is available now, we can confidently say that I’m broke.”

One picture posted online on December 8 shows Mr. Polonsky wearing only a krama around his waist, holding a monkey under one arm and a tropical bird in the other hand.

In a post to mark Christmas, just days before his arrest, Mr. Polonsky posted photographs alongside the message “Celebrated with a bang. Dressed a Christmas tree, kite-surfing…spent the night on a desert island. All good. I forgive all.”

(Additional reporting by Aun Pheap)

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