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Helping out ‘the boss’

Six boatmen who agreed last week to drop a complaint of violence against Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky did so because they consider him their boss, their superior said yesterday.

Although not technically employed by Polonsky, the six men, employees of the Snake House Restaurant and Hotel, were often told to take him from Sihanoukville to Koh Dek Koul island, Snake House boat manager Pheng Phoeun told the Post.

Those orders, he said, came from Snake House owner Nikolai Doroshenko, who co-owns Koh Dek Koul with Polonsky. Doroshenko could not be reached for comment.

“Since Polonsky has been in jail, my boss [Doroshenko] has looked unhappy,” Phoeun said. “My staff discussed dropping the complaint, as they knew Polonsky was also their boss and they didn’t want to be making these allegations against him. They decided, and I agreed.”

The six men agreed last week to a combined $20,000 in compensation from Polonsky, Alexander Karachinsky, 25, and Konstantin Baglay, 25, who were arrested on December 30 and charged with intentional violence and illegal detention.

Despite not wanting any trouble for their “boss”, the six men would go to the provincial court for questioning today as summonsed, Phoeun said.

“We withdrew the complaint, but the court wants to hear that we officially withdrew it,” he said.

“My staff will show up at the court for questioning. We will go as the summons demands.”   

Ouch Sopheaktra, lawyer for the boatmen, confirmed he had officially withdrawn the complaint after his clients agreed on compensation.

“My clients agreed to end the case, so that is why I withdrew the complaint for them,” he said.

On the day of the alleged incident, the workers had used the Snake House’s boat to bring Polonsky and his friends back from Koh Dek Koul, Sopheaktra added.

The three men were arrested on December 30, accused of threatening a boatmen with a knife and locking him in a room before forcing the crew to jump overboard. All three were charged with intentional violence and illegal detention.

Polonsky has said in statements his arrest was due to a misunderstanding over fireworks.

Mong Monichakriya, president of Preah Sihanouk court, said yesterday he had not heard anything about the complaints being dropped, adding that investigating judge, Sar Lina, had begun investigations.

Tan Nareth, deputy director of the provincial prison, said he had not been told to prepare the three men for questioning or release and had been focused on dealing with Russian TV crews that had swamped the prison trying to meet with the well-known businessman.

Polonsky, who was estimated to be worth more than $1 billion before the global financial crisis, has reportedly written a letter to the king stating his desire to become a Cambodian citizen after he is “cleared”.

Mirax Group, the defunct company Polonsky headed until 2011, is under investigation in Russia over failed development projects.

To contact the reporters on this story:

Cheang Sokha at sokha.cheang@phnompenhpost.com

Shane Worrell at shane.worrell@phnompenhpost.com

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