Police are seeking the arrest of the Russian owner of a bar, a hotel and a kindergarten in Sihanoukville who is wanted by Interpol for serious alleged crimes including “illegal possession of explosives” linked to organised crime.
Oleg Tikhanov, who is the employer of several men involved in a vicious brawl earlier this month that left a man in hospital with stab wounds, is listed on the organisation’s website as wanted in Russia for a raft of weapons-related offences.
The Interpol website lists those offences as “Illegal possession and storage of firearms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices or its spare parts committed by [an] organized criminal group”.
Lim Sokha Raksmey, acting director of the Cambodian Interpol office, confirmed yesterday that he had received a high alert from Interpol International and authorities were poised to take action.
“We accept that this guy is quite a dangerous person that we need to start working on and investigating,” he said, declining to give further details on the operation.
A 45-year-old expatriate who resides in Sihanoukville, Tikhanov is the owner of the company Oceania, which runs a raft of businesses including the Oceania Kindergarten, the Oceania Boutique Hotel and the Garage Bar.
He did not respond to calls and emails from Post Weekend yesterday, and Oceania staff said he had not been seen since Wednesday.
Employees of Lotus Tours, the official tour operator for the cancelled kaZantip music festival, have alleged that a January 13 brawl erupted after Tikhanov’s men attacked their employees at Queenco casino with knives and demanded a $45,000 cut of the profits from the event.
In an exclusive interview last week, Tikhanov told the Phnom Penh Post the allegations were “lies, lies, and again lies”.
CCTV footage of the incident viewed by the Post showed that several men had jumped on Tikhanov’s men and beaten one of them to the ground.
Post Weekend has obtained a letter sent from Nikita Marshunok, “president” of the kaZantip Republic, to Sihanoukville police commissioner Seang Kosal which alleges that, on January 24, Tikhanov and at least six associates went to Koh Puos and demanded money.
“They came and surrounded me, and in emotional and aggressive form tried to explain that they ‘control all business questions in Sihanoukville’, and asked to pay them 45,000 USD – if not, they ‘dig me in the jungle or drown to the sea.’” the letter reads.
Seang Kosal declined to comment yesterday, and Sihanoukville deputy governor Chhin Seng Nguon said he was unaware of the Interpol warrant against Tikhanov.
Interpol’s Lim Sokha Raksmey said Tikhanov was just one of many foreigners causing headaches in the coastal tourist hot spot.
“We have quite a few Russians in Sihanoukville with problems,” he said.
When contacted yesterday, Preah Sihanouk’s deputy chief of Criminal Investigation Kol Phally said it was not his job to watch out for international fugitives within his jurisdiction.
“I don’t know whether Interpol announced to find him or not because it is not my responsibility,” he said, adding that Tikhanov’s case fell under the umbrella of national authorities.
Additional reporting by Vandy Muong, Griff Tapper and Bennett Murray.