Sailors Retract Russian Billionare Assault Claims – Source

BANGKOK, January 14 (RIA Novosti) – The Cambodian sailors at the center of a physical assault scandal involving a Russian real estate magnate have dropped the charges against Sergei Polonsky and two other Russians, who allegedly attacked them during an outing late last month off the Cambodian coast, a member of the Russians’ defense team said.

The lawyer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RIA Novosti on Monday that the sailors, who served as crew aboard a ship ferrying Polonsky and the others from a private island to the Cambodian mainland in late December, retracted their claims that Polonsky, Konstantin Baglay and Alexander Karachinsky had threatened the crew with a knife and locked them in a cabin.

“This happened after an agreement was reached with them on compensation for damages,” he said, adding that a final decision will nevertheless be left to the court.

The three men were arrested on December 31 and remain in Cambodian police custody. They face up to three years in prison if convicted. All have pleaded innocent.

Cambodian authorities launched an investigation into the affair on January 9.

On Saturday, Polonsky’s former business partner, Sergei Vladi, told RIA Novosti that the real estate magnate wrote to the King of Cambodia on January 7 requesting citizenship once his name was cleared of the charges. Vladi added that Polonsky is interested in building luxury hotels in the country.

Polonsky made headlines in 2011, when he was punched in the face during a television talk show by fellow Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev, who was later charged with hooliganism and faces up to two years in prison.

Lebedev has claimed the charges are a political response to his criticism of the Kremlin.

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