Argentina shares footage of cocaine deals
With the help of a portrait examination, investigators will establish whether the main person involved in the investigation, Andrey Kovalchuk, is in the footage.
Argentina has provided the Russian police with a large amount of materials related to the cocaine case, including operational footage of the main person involved in the investigation, Andrey Kovalchuk, taken during his visits to Buenos Aires. This is reported by Rosbalt referring to sources in law enforcement bodies. The MIA Investigative Department has appointed a portrait examination to confirm that it was Kovalchuk in the video.
The footage shows Kovalchuk's meetings with the Argentine police officer Ivan Bliznyuk, who was responsible for guarding the external perimeter of the Russian embassy. Argentine law enforcement officials believe that Bliznyuk could have bought drugs in Latin America, and Kovalchuk undertook to deliver them to Germany in transit through Russia or Latvia.
During interrogation in Argentina, Bliznyuk denied his possible involvement in drug trafficking. In turn, while in custody in Germany, Kovalchuk did not admit that he knew Bliznyuk. The arrestee does not testify in Russia, referring to Article 51 of the Constitution. The portrait examination should confirm or deny the connection between Kovalchuk and Bliznyuk.
Earlier, examination of traces of sweat and hair particles found on the suitcases seized from the Russian Embassy was performed as part of the case. The DNA samples of all defendant were taken to conduct it, namely of the alleged organizer of the drug smuggling channel, Andrey Kovalchuk, caretaker of the Russian embassy in Argentina, Ali Abyanov, businessmen Ishtimir Khudzhamov, and Vladimir Kalmykov. It turned out that the DNA traces on the suitcases did not match any of the arrestees.
According to the investigation, in 2016, Andrey Kovalchuk developed a cocaine smuggling scheme, which provided for storing drugs in the premises of the Russian embassy in Argentina, its delivery to Russia “using specialized flights”, and bringing the “goods” to Russia and European countries for further sale. The FSB and MIA believe that in other Latin American countries, Kovalchuk personally met with suppliers of cocaine and negotiated the purchase of large consignments, which were subsequently shipped to Argentina. The cargo was then handed over to the caretaker of the Embassy, Ali Abyanov, who was supposed to ensure the storage of the drug on its territory, as well as its transportation by special flights. Kalmykov and Khudzhamov were to receive the cocaine in Moscow, and then send it to Europe. In addition, they paid for private flights if drugs could not be shipped by special board.
Kalmykov denies these charges. According to his version cited by Rosbalt, in July 2016, he bought coffee, cigars, and alcohol in Buenos Aires. Purchases were made in front of many witnesses; all the receipts are available. July 15, with the permission of Ali Abyanov, Kovalchuk left the goods in the back room of the embassy school. November 2016, another person replaced the caretaker, whom warned about Kovalchuk's belongings at the embassy. The fact that there was cocaine in the suitcases was a complete surprise for Kovalchuk. In his opinion, the goods in the embassy building were replaced for the purpose of provocation.
In 2018, the official became a founder of a fund that deals with shooting and entrapment of wild animals in a hunting sector he supervises. With that, the official did not report about it to his senior executives.