Main defendant of cocaine case points to inconsistencies in investigation papers

Main defendant of cocaine case points to inconsistencies in investigation papers
Andrey Kovalchuk

The alleged orchestrator of cocaine deliveries through Russia to Europe via diplomatic channels of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Andrey Kovalchuk, who is currently in a Berlin prison, objects to extradition to Russia.

The main person involved in the case of smuggling large quantities of cocaine by diplomatic mail, Andrey Kovalchuk, filed a complaint with a German court about objections to extradition to Russia that he may face, Rosbalt reports. Request for the extradition of Kovalchuk was officially sent by the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation to Berlin in early April 2018.

In his appeal to the court, which was at the disposal of Rosbalt, the main suspect denies his involvement in the supply of drugs and points to inconsistencies in the materials of the investigation.

In particular, Kovalchuk claims that he was not in Argentina during the period, mentioned by facilities managers of the diplomatic mission of the Russian Federation in Buenos Aires at the interrogation. According to him, in 2012 (manager Abyanov testified that it was this year that he met Kovalchuk, who gave him a suitcase to be sent to Russia and $1000), he did not visit Argentina at all, which is confirmed by border stamps in his passport.

The second argument of Kovalchuk concerns the delivery of the drug to the embassy in July 2016, as the investigation believes. However, the First Secretary of the embassy and at the same time the Head of the security service of the diplomatic mission, Oleg Vorobyov, and logistics manager Rogov discovered cocaine only in November 2016 and reported the strange finding to the leadership and the Argentine police only in December 2016.

"Given all the testimonies, it appears that the senior security officer of the embassy finds 12 huge publicly available suitcases with drugs only a year after taking the post," Rosbalt quotes Kovalchuk’s appeal.

In addition, according to the investigation materials, cocaine hidden in the school of the Embassy was planned to be shipped to Moscow by a charter flight, Kovalchuk notes, and only country leaders of Russia - Russian President Vladimir Putin, Head of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko and Chairman of Security Council Nikolay Patrushev - arrived in Argentina by three such flights during the period indicated by the investigation. The suspect notes that it is easy to verify using the data of the airport of Buenos Aires. In this regard, Kovalchuk asks on which one of these three charter flights, according to investigators, the criminal group created by Kovalchuk could transport cocaine to Russia.

Declaring that he had nothing to do with the discovered cocaine, Andrey Kovalchuk asks the German court not to extradite him to Russia.

To recap, 12 suitcases, which contained 362 kg of cocaine, were found by the embassy staff in the school at the Russian Embassy in Argentina on December 13, 2016. The secret investigation of Argentine and Russian law enforcement officers lasted more than a year, after which Russia detained suspects in illegal drug deliveries to Europe through Russia – Ali Abyanov, former logistics manager of the embassy, and businessmen Vladimir Kalmykov and Ishtimir Khudzhamov, and Argentinian law enforcers rounded up policeman Ivan Bliznyuk and his accomplice Alexander Chikalo, and the alleged organizer of drug trafficking, Andrey Kovalchuk, was caught in Germany. Last week, the lawyers of Abyanov, Khudzhamov, and Kalmykov, detained in Russia, stated that the suitcases with cocaine, which the Argentine policemen had replaced with flour before they were sent to Moscow, had no biological traces of their clients. This was established by a genetic examination of DNA, previously ordered by the investigation.

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