Still in Prison, Sergei Polonsky Set to Marry Common-Law Wife

While his lawyers seek deals to secure his safe passage to Moscow and protect his dwindling fortune, jailed Russian oligarch Sergei Polonsky is set to enter into a different kind of pact: marriage.

According to Russian media sources, the ex-billionaire will wed his common-law wife, Olga Deripasko, on his 41st birthday on Sunday—in prison if necessary.

Mr. Polonsky—who was charged in absentia in July with embezzling $176 million from investors in an unfinished Moscow development project called the Kutuzovskaya Mile—was arrested on Koh Rong off the coast of Sihanoukville on November 11 and sent to Phnom Penh’s minimum-security PJ Prison.

On Friday, Mr. Polonsky’s lawyer, Alexander Karabonov, told Russian news agency Interfax that his client had formally applied on Thursday to marry Ms. Deripasko, a longtime girlfriend.

In a television interview with Russia’s Life News channel on Thursday, Ms. Deripasko said the marriage would be a “birthday present” to her embattled partner.

Artur Yavorskiy, an employee of Mr. Polonsky, on Sunday confirmed that the ceremony is scheduled for next week, but said the motivations behind the oligarch’s decision to wed while in prison eluded him.

“It’s very personal. I don’t know the reason,” Mr. Yavorskiy said.

Russian media reports, however, seemed to suggest the wedding was a mere stunt taking advantage of opaque and complex legal procedures in Cambodia.

“All procedural norms have been breached,” The Voice of Russia quoted Mr. Karabonov as saying on Friday.

“There are no deadlines spelled out there [Cambodia]…. The defendant and his lawyers are naturally taking advantage of that,” an unidentified Russian official told The Moscow Times the same day.

PJ Prison director Hou Puthvisal said Sunday that a wedding was out of the question.

“This is a prison. How can you get married in a prison?” he said.

(Additional reporting by Phorn Bopha)

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