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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prison chief wanted bribe: Polonsky mate

Prison chief wanted bribe: Polonsky mate

Alexander Karachinsky, one of three Russians arrested in late December over an alleged violent incident at sea, claimed on Friday that the director of Preah Sihanouk prison, Som Sophal, had tried to extort a $300,000 bribe from him for his release – an allegation Sophal denied.

In a tweet to the Post and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, Karachinsky, 25, whose co-accused include property tycoon Sergei Polonsky, 40, said he had been told he could pay for his release.

“The prison’s director blackmailed me for $300,000,” he posted in one of several related posts on his Twitter and Facebook pages.

“The prison’s director blackmailed me for $300,000 to release us,” he added in another.

Sophal said the allegation that he had tried to extort money from Karachinsky was damaging to his reputation.

“I don’t have the right to release [prisoners],” he said. “I never asked them for money in exchange for their release at all. I will have to check this out before I decide what to do next.”

Karachinsky and Konstantin Baglay, 25, were released on March 14 after the provincial court decided the pair did not play a central role in violence against six boatmen off the coast of Sihanoukville.

Polonsky remains in prison, despite the boatmen dropping their complaints in exchange for a combined $20,000.

Karachinsky posted on Friday that he was ready to talk to the media, but a representative who did not want to be named said yesterday that Karachinsky did not want to comment.

“That was a few days ago,” she said, adding there had been fake accounts using the Russians’ names. “It is a big responsibility for me to say whether these accounts are his.”  

The Twitter account used to post the allegations against Sophal dates back to 2010 and the Facebook page to 2009.

In a letter to the Post late last week, Polonsky said he admired Cambodians and asked for their help in finding justice.

“All that is published in press is a fabrication,” he wrote. “All negative information that you hear and read about me is a result of dishonorable men, my enemies.”

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