Police Searching for Russian Accused of Sparking Casino Brawl

Police in Preah Sihanouk province are seeking the arrest of Oleg Tikhanov—a Russian businessman on Interpol’s list of most-wanted criminals—for ordering an attack that led to a violent brawl at Sihanoukville’s Queenco Hotel & Casino in February.

Mr. Tikhanov, 45, who is wanted in his home country for weapons and explosives possession as part of a criminal syndicate, runs the Oceania company, which operates a hotel, biker-themed bar and kindergarten in Sihanoukville.

Oleg Tikhanov, right, inspects a motorcycle ahead of a charity ride in Sihanoukville in January as Andrei Tcekhanskii, left, looks on, in a photo posted to the Facebook page of Mr Tikhanov's Garage Bar & Restaurant.
Oleg Tikhanov, right, inspects a motorcycle ahead of a charity ride in Sihanoukville in January as Andrei Tcekhanskii, left, looks on, in a photo posted to the Facebook page of Mr Tikhanov’s Garage Bar & Restaurant.

Deputy provincial police chief Em Voleak said Wednesday that Mr. Tikhanov was behind the February casino attack.

“He is the mastermind behind the violence that occurred in Queenco casino,” Mr. Voleak said.

“He lived in Sihanoukville, but escaped after the violent incident,” he added. “I am not sure where he is now.”

On February 13, a fight broke out between two groups of Eastern European men inside the casino over profits from the Kazantip music festival, which was canceled by the government before it began. At least two men were injured in the fray; one suffered a serious stab wound.

After leading more than 20 police on an hourlong motorbike chase through Sihanoukville on Tuesday evening, Russian national Andrei Tcekhanskii, 36, was arrested and jailed for his alleged involvement in the brawl.

Mr. Voleak described Mr. Tcekhanskii as Mr. Tikhanov’s “subordinate,” but would not elaborate on their relationship.

Kol Phally, another deputy provincial police chief, said that Ly Sophaneth, an investigating judge at the Preah Sihanouk Provincial Court, issued a warrant for Mr. Tcekhanskii’s arrest two weeks ago.

“He was charged with intentional acts of violence under aggravating circumstances,” he said.

Mr. Phally said he had not received any information about Mr. Tikhanov’s Interpol warrant.

“Interpol is working on their case and we are working on our case,” he said.

According to Interpol’s website, Mr. Tikhanov is wanted by Russian authorities for the “illegal possession and storage of firearms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices or its spare parts committed by organized criminal group [sic].”

Lim Sokha Raksmey, acting director of Cambodia’s Interpol office, said Wednesday that he had already informed National Police commissioner Neth Savoeun that Mr. Tikhanov was wanted by Interpol.

“I just told him that Interpol issued a Red Notice,” Mr. Sokha Raksmey said. “It is not my job to do the investigation.”

National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith could not be reached.

(Additional reporting by Chris Mueller)

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