Three foreigners were arrested Saturday for attempting to “rescue” Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky from detention, prompting authorities to expedite the property developer’s deportation, an official revealed Tuesday.
Mr. Polonsky was sent back to Moscow on Sunday after being arrested Friday on charges of overstaying his visa. Cambodian authorities also allege that he had obtained weapons and set up a bodyguard unit, making his continued presence in the country a threat to national security.
Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at the Interior Ministry’s general department of immigration, said Tuesday that nine foreigners arrived at his department at about 8 p.m. Saturday and began acting suspiciously.
Major General Heisela said the men sat in an SUV for about two hours before approaching the offices to ask about acquiring visas.
“They came and they pretended to want to get visas, but they acted like they were trying to rescue the prisoner,” he said.
“Afterward we surrounded their SUV in front of our place and arrested three people in the car.”
He said the trio included two Russian nationals, Roman Kotelnikov and Aleksei Kunitcyn, and a Ukranian, Valerii Noviko, adding that the other men escaped on moto-taxis.
“We accused them of affecting national security because they planned to rescue the prisoner, so we also need to deport them this week, but it depends on who is first to receive the flight ticket,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Heisela added that the attempted “rescue” prompted authorities to make Mr. Polonsky’s deportation swift. The former billionaire was put on a plane at 6:40 a.m. the next day.
“We needed to deport Mr. Polonsky in a hurry because we didn’t want another foreigner from his group to show up and affect our security in the country,” he said.
The trio arrested Saturday night join five other associates of Mr. Polonsky who were arrested with their boss on Friday.
Maj. Gen. Heisela said that all eight men “must” be deported before the end of the week.
Lawyers for Mr. Polonsky in Moscow have accused Cambodia of acting “against both Cambodian and international law” in arresting and deporting him. They say he is unlikely to get a fair trial in Russia, where he is charged with embezzling millions of dollars from investors in two property schemes.