Fugitive Former Mayor of Vladivostok Seized in Panama
If extradited to Russia, Vladimir Nikolayev would face a prison sentence.
VLADIVOSTOK. May 11. VOSTOK-MEDIA – The former mayor of Vladivostok Vladimir Nikolayev has been arrested in Panama by Interpol at the request of Vladivostok Interior Department, which had put the ex-mayor on the international wanted list.
Crime.vl.ru cited a source in the Interior Department as saying that Vladimir Nikolayev was seized several days ago. At present, Russian law enforcement authorities are discussing with their Panamian counterparts the extradition of Nikolayev to Russia, where he would face a prison sentence for abuse of office and a questioning by police over the murder of Mikhail Bedak, the director of Tikhookeansky health resort.
According to Crime.vl.ru, the unexpected disappearance of Nikolayev in 2008 is very likely connected with the fact that the police had called him in for questioning over the murder of the health resort director. Although he was called in to testify as a witness, he obviously understood that he himself could be charged with the crime. Without waiting for the subsequent questioning by the police he left the country for Thailand the next day.
On 24 December 2007, Vladimir Nikolayev was found guilty of abuse of office and placed on three years probation. He was also prohibited from holding any public office for three years. Under existing law, an offender on probation should regularly see a probation officer and follow certain conditions set forth by the court. In case of violation of probation the offender faces a prison sentence.
In September 2008, a Vladivostok court revoked the probation and sentenced him to a prison term.
According to Crime.vl.ru, Nikolayev moved from Thailand to Panama and bought an apartment there to spend some time in hiding.
“In April 2009 Russia and Panama concluded an agreement on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, which has not yet entered into force,” says Aleksandr Sukharenko, head of Primorsky Krai Center for Assessment of New Challenges and Threats to National Security. “However, this agreement does not provide for surrender by one state, at the request of another, of a person who is accused or has been convicted of a crime committed within the jurisdiction of the requesting state. I hope that Panamian and Russian authorities will reach an agreement and Nikolayev will be extradited and I also wish he had not yet become a citizen of that country. In the past several years, only few criminals have been extradited from the Latin America to Russia”
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