3 Russians held for art theft

3 Russians held for art theft

Three Russian suspects have been arrested for allegedly stealing a 50-million-baht painting from a Swiss art dealer in Pattaya last November, before fleeing to Phuket.

The arrests were jointly conducted by the Immigration Bureau (IB) Investigation Division and Immigration Division 6.

They followed a request by provincial police in Chon Buri for help in tracking down Russian nationals Olek Tarakhnov, 51, Alek Sie, 19, Maxim Sukharev, 33, and Alena Zakharova, 33, who were suspected to be hiding in Phuket.

Investigators received a tip-off that Mr Tarakhnov and Ms Zakharova were living together at Grace Garden Villa, and Mr Sukharev lived alone at Habitown Villa in tambon Koh Kaew of Muang district.

Investigators asked the Phuket Provincial Court to issue warrants against the suspects and arrested them yesterday. Mr Sie, however, had already left the country.

Pol Maj Gen Phantana Nutchanat, commander of the IB's Investigation Division, yesterday said the four assaulted a Swiss national and stole a painting worth 50 million baht in Pattaya last November. All were caught and released on bail but then later skipped bail and fled to Phuket.

The three claimed the incident was a misunderstanding. However, Na Jomtien police said the Swiss national claimed a deal had been struck to purchase the painting and then they attacked him and stole the artwork.

Russia's consulate in Phuket will try and help locate the painting.

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