Russian tycoon Telman Ismailov seeks asylum in Montenegro after arrest on warrant from Moscow
A Russian billionaire of Azerbaijani origin wanted by Moscow for allegedly commissioning contract killings has been arrested in Montenegro.
Local media in Montenegro reported on October 2 that Telman Ismailov was seeking asylum in the Balkan country, a day after his arrest in Podgorica under an international arrest warrant issued by Russia.
Vijesti newspaper reported that seeking political asylum could complicate Ismailov’s extradition to Russia from Montenegro, where his son Alekper Ismailov owns a casino in the coastal town of Budva.
Ismailov is accused in Russia of financing the 2016 murder of two businessmen in the Moscow region, as well as the kidnapping of a singer in 2004.
The tycoon has long been the target of President Vladimir Putin, who has reportedly criticized Ismailov’s flashy and extravagant lifestyle.
Ismailov – once one of Russia’s best-connected businessmen – built the huge open-air Cherkizovsky market in Moscow to shut it down in 2009 for “health and safety violations” and for carrying out illegal activities.
At the time, The Russian investigative committee accused the market of operating as a “state within a state”, with its own laws and security.
Critics say the closure of the Cherkizovsky Market may have been part of a struggle for value real estate in Moscow. Ismailov eventually fled Russia and his properties were confiscated to pay off debts.
The market closure came weeks after Putin berated Ismailov for hosting a lavish opening night at his massive 5-star Mardan Place hotel in Turkey at a time when Russians were suffering from the 1998 financial crisis in the country. He also suggested that billions of dollars made in Russia should be invested in the country, rather than in glitzy projects abroad.
Eyewitnesses at the party said they saw $ 100 bills coming out of the ceiling to rain down guests, including Hollywood stars and Russian elites.
Vijesti reported that one of Ismailov’s guests at the party was then Montenegrin Prime Minister, and now State President Milo Dukanovic.
With reports from AFP, Vijesti and Current Time