Russian MIA confirms defendants in ‘cocaine case’ have Russian citizenship

Russian MIA confirms defendants in ‘cocaine case’ have Russian citizenship
Police arresting Ivan Bliznyuk in Buenos Aires

The Russian MIA did not specify whether it will help them.

Ivan Bliznyuk and Aleksandr Chikalo suspected of trafficking cocaine from Latin America and arrested in Argentina have Russian travel passports that expired in 2017, the Russian MIA told RBC that asked whether they are Russian citizens.

Only Russian citizens can receive Russian travel passports, according to the Russian MIA rules.

Liliana Borisyuk, the defendants' attorney, had earlier told RBC that her clients still had Russian citizenship. Her clients sent the publication a letter stating that the two had nothing to do with drug trafficking and that they feel “abandoned” by Russia, asking Russian authorities for help. When asked whether the two asked employees of the Russian embassy in Argentina for help, the Russian MIA said that they had not.

The defendants have been put in Marcos Paz jail (Complejo Penitenciario Federal II Marcos Paz).

“It is only natural that Russia should launch its own investigation if they are Russian citizens, and they should face consequences here,” Vladimir Zherebenkov, attorney of businessman Andrey Kovalchuk, the alleged trafficking scheme orchestrator in the ‘cocaine case’, told RBC. The two are not mentioned in the Russian case file that RBC saw.

However, Argentinian investigators believe the two and Ali Abyanov were the main orchestrator behind the scheme. They base their allegations on information they had gathered through wiretapping. “We have to continue working on getting them extradited here [to Russia],” Zherebenkov continued. Kovalchuk has lived in Germany recently. However, he is under investigation by the Russian MIA. Kovalchuk was arrested in Berlin following a request by Russian authorities that are going to push for this extradition.

Let us remind you that Patricia Bullrich, the Argentinian Minister of Security, revealed that Argentinian police found 389 kilos of cocaine at the Russian embassy in Argentina in February 2018.

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