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Russians jailed after sea scrape

A Russian businessman, almost certainly a well-known former billionaire, was one of three men arrested on Sunday and charged with intentional violence and illegal detention over an incident off the coast off Sihanoukville on Saturday night.

Provincial deputy prosecutor Huot Vicheth told the Post yesterday that Russian nationals Sergei Polonsky, who he said was 41, and two men identified only as Karachinsky, 24, and Baglay, 25, appeared in court on January 1 after navy forces and military police arrested them Sunday.

“They are currently in jail awaiting further investigation,” he said.

“I cannot elaborate in detail about the case, as it is now in the hands of the investigating judge.”

According to police documents obtained by the Post yesterday, a crew of six boatmen picked up the three Russian men from Koh Rong, an island off the coast of Sihanoukville, on the night of December 29, to bring them back to the mainland.

The boatmen told police that during the trip back to shore, Polonsky threatened the boat’s captain with a knife and locked him in a room, while two others were threatened.

“He used a knife to threaten me and kept me in the bathroom,” the man told police, according to the document.

The victims also claimed that Polonsky ordered some of the crew members to jump from the ship, leaving them to call for help from passing fishing boats and a patrolling Navy ship.

Sergei Polonsky, who according to a Forbes magazine profile in 2008 was worth more than $1 billion, is a well-known Russian businessman who was reported to have bowed out of the business world after the collapse of his real-estate company, Mirax Group, in 2011.

But according to the website of development firm Potok, which has projects in countries including Cambodia, Polonsky is the company’s sole shareholder.

Advertised on Potok’s website is an island resort on Koh Dek Kol, which is referred to elsewhere as Mirax Resort and is on the way to Koh Rong from Sihanoukville.

It is believed Polonsky has been living in the Sihanoukville area and is involved in the island resort project.

Kheng Bunty, the Preah Sihanouk province deputy military commander who originally questioned the three men, could not be reached  for comment.

Two spokespeople from the Russian embassy in Phnom Penh said they could not give details of the case.

Polonsky, a well-known businessman and blogger from St Petersburg, was famously punched by Russian billionaire banker and newspaper owner Alexander Lebedev during a live televised debate on Russian television in 2011.


To contact the reporter on this story: Cheang Sokha at
With assistance from Shane Worrell



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