Russian curler targeted in the 'cocaine affair'

Russian curler targeted in the 'cocaine affair'
Seized cocaine Photo: AFP / Reuters

The investigation of the case has not finished.

Russian curler Denis Kilba has become involved the high-profile case targeting smuggling of 400 kg of cocaine from Argentina to Russia.

As RT has learned, the drug was not sent to Russia, but to Europe, since the cargo movement was controlled by two citizens of Latvia. The spread of cocaine was planned to be carried out through Latvians.

According to investigators, in October 2017 businessman Andrey Kovalchuk attempted to export the suitcases with cocaine, which he had previously stored in the utility room of the school at the Russian Embassy in Buenos Aires, on a rented business jet. Kovalchuk’s partner in crime Ishtimir Khudzhamov flew to Buenos Aires on this plane. He was accompanied by two citizens of Latvia.

Khudzhamov's lawyer Dmitry Minenko told that initially Khudzhamov had flown to Spain, and from there – to Argentina with a group of Latvians. When asked who the citizens of Latvia were, he was at a loss to answer. Dmitry Minenko also said that the plane was supposed to fly to Riga, not to Moscow.

However, in December 2017, the plane with drugs landed in Moscow. There it was met by Ishtimir Khudzhamov and Vladimir Kalmykov, direct defendants in the criminal case. They hired curler Kilbu as a driver. Later, all three were rounded up during a special operation of Russian and Argentine services. Khudzhamov, Kalmykov and the former supply manager of the Russian embassy in Argentina, Ali Abyanov, were arrested. Kilba was interrogated and his status as a witness was retained.

Initially, the three detainees were charged under the articles on Smuggling and Illegal Making, Sale or Dispatch of Narcotic Drugs, later the investigation changed the articles considering that they acted together. Now they may face a life sentence.

In early March this year, Kovalchuk was arrested in Germany as the alleged organizer of drug supplies. The same case saw detention of another employee of the embassy, Alexander Chikalo, as well as policeman Ivan Bliznyuk, who was part of security staff of the diplomatic mission. It is assumed that Bliznyuk and Chikalo were in charge of the MORAL foundation (Mecenas Ortodoxos Rusos En America Latin, Russian Orthodox patrons in Latin America).

Now the ‘cocaine affair’ involves six people. The participation of Denis Kilba, former professional athlete, participant of the Russian championships, now the owner of four firms engaged in wholesale trade in timber and chemical products, remains uncertain.

It has been found that Kilba began to promote curling in the Irkutsk region. The investigation believes that the former curler and one of the defendants of the 'cocaine affair' Ivan Bliznyuk are related to each other, since Bliznyuk organized a visit of the children's basketball club from Irkutsk to Buenos Aires, and Kovalchuk's accomplice Khudzhamov was listed among Kilba's friends in one of the social networks.



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