MOSCOW, January 4 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Embassy in Cambodia on Friday confirmed that ex-billionaire property developer Sergei Polonsky was detained in the city of Sihanoukville, while his company representative said that he has been released but faces hooliganism charges.
“We can confirm that Polonsky has been detained. But we do not have any further detail regarding the circumstances at present,” a Russian diplomat in Phnom Penh told RIA Novosti. “We are looking into it.”
Representative of the Potok company, founded by Polonsky, said Friday that he has been already freed from custody.
“Polonsky has been released under the written pledge not to leave town, [the law enforcements] are trying to file hooliganism charges against him,” she told RIA Novosti.
The confirmation follows media reports that Cambodian police had arrested Polonsky and two other Russian nationals on charges of premeditated violence and false imprisonment. Local police said that Polonsky was one of three men arrested on Monday in Sihanoukville.
Six sailors, who were part of a crew bringing the three men back to shore after a visit to nearby islands, claim the men threatened them at knifepoint, locked them in a cabin, and made them jump into the sea.
The Potok spokeswoman declined to comment on the reported incident but said that the detention followed “mutual misunderstanding” with the Cambodian militaries.
“Sergei Polonsky was celebrating the New Year with his friends on one of the uninhabited islands in Cambodia. The festive fireworks drew attention of the militaries located on a neighboring island,” she said. “The militaries arrived to check their documents, which none of the party guests had with them.”
Polonsky suggested going to a different island where he left his documents, but the Cambodian officials “rudely refused and forcefully took him to the military base to verify identity.”
“Such behavior prompted a harsh reaction from emotional Sergei Polonsky,” the spokeswoman said without elaborating.
None of those detained have commented on the accusations.
Polonsky used to head the Mirax Group construction firm. It collapsed in 2011, and Polonsky was quoted by Russian newspaper Vedomosti in March 2011 as saying “I am not a businessman any more.”
He made headlines again in 2011 when he participated in talk show debate with Alexander Lebedev that descended into violence. “I neutralized him,” Lebedev was quoted as saying of the incident, explaining that Polonsky’s boorish and unstable behavior pushed him to the limit.
Vladimir Putin later labeled their behavior "hooliganism."
(This story was updated at 5.45 p.m. adding new developments and comments)