Russia Claims Cambodia Failed To Notify of Embezzler’s Arrest

Cambodian officials have not informed Russian authorities about the arrest of a wanted embezzler in Sihanoukville last month, despite apprehending him at their request, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday.

Acting on a months-old arrest warrant from the Appeal Court, police in the seaside city arrested Russian national Vladimir Batalin, 37, on the afternoon of March 28 and later transferred him to Phnom Penh. According to the warrant, he has been wanted in his home country for “cheating a company of money” in 2007 and 2008.

When Mr. Batalin refused to cooperate with officials from the Interior Ministry’s anti-terrorism department on Wednesday, he was sent to the minimum-security PJ Prison pending possible deportation, officials said at the time.

On Wednesday, however, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in an email that the Russian Embassy in Phnom Penh had not been informed of the arrest.

“[U]ntil now they have no official notification from the Cambodian authorities about the arrest of Mr. Vladimir Batalin,” the ministry’s email said.

The ministry did not immediately respond to requests for further comment. The Russian Embassy in Phnom Penh has not replied to multiple requests for comment.

Hean Rith, a deputy prosecutor at the Appeal Court who signed off on the warrant for Mr. Batalin, dated July 18 and issued at the request of Russian authorities, said he had notified the Justice Ministry of his arrest but did not know whether the information was passed on. Officials at the Justice Ministry could not be reached.

Mr. Rith said the Appeal Court would decide whether to deport Mr. Batalin to Russia later this month.

“We will schedule a hearing after Khmer New Year because now the Appeal Court is busy with other cases,” he said. “But if the Appeal Court decides to extradite him and he does not want to go, he can appeal to the Supreme Court.”

Following his arrest, Mr. Batalin told police that he had come to Cambodia “as a tourist” and was unemployed. Under questioning by the anti-terrorism department later in the week, he refused to answer questions, according to the department’s deputy director.

Before his arrest, however, Mr. Batalin was often seen in the company of eccentric Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky, who was in the process of developing a string of islands off the coast of Sihanoukville last year when he was deported to face long-standing fraud charges in Moscow.

Em Voleak, a deputy Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief, has said that Mr. Batalin, like Mr. Polonsky before him, was on Interpol’s list of most-wanted persons. However, as of Wednesday, Mr. Batalin was not listed on Interpol’s website.

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