Russia’s Most Classy Mullet

chivarchin120709.jpgWhomever was in charge of telling me that Yevgeny Chichvarkin’s nickname was the “million-dollar mullet” is fired.  That is just too good.  Russia Profile has a very good article this week on his case, which is very complicated even by Russian standards.

The Russian authorities officially filed for Chichvarkin’s extradition in June, after he skipped a summons for questioning in January, and instead fled to London, where a number of Russian businessmen have found political asylum. Chichvarkin, a flamboyant businessman nicknamed the “million-dollar mullet” on account of his hairstyle, is wanted in Russia on charges of extortion and the kidnap of Andrei Vlaskin, a former Yevroset employee. Interpol in March also added the telecoms tycoon to their wanted list.

Back in 2003, Yevroset investigators accused Vlaskin, whotransported freight for the firm, of stealing and reselling companytelephones on the black market. According to Chichvarkin’s version ofevents, Vlaskin returned the money to Yevroset after he was found inhiding in Tambov. The mobile phone company subsequently dropped formalcharges against Vlaskin. However, Chichvarkin is now accused by theRussian authorities of ordering the kidnap of Vlaskin and coercing himto repay some 20 million rubles ($690,000) to Yevroset by selling hiscar and country house. If Chichvarkin is extradited, and convicted onboth charges, he could serve as many as thirty years.

On the one hand, Vlaskin denies outright any involvement in thetheft of Yevroset property. “The case contains no serious proof ofVlaskin stealing any phones, but only contradictory testimony by somewitnesses,” Maria Konchevskaya, Vlaskin’s lawyer told the Kommersantdaily. “They apparently chose him as a scapegoat to bear responsibilityfor some balance arrears, and also decided to beat the money out ofhim.”

On the other hand, Chichvarkin and his lawyers are adamant that heis innocent and that someone is pulling strings behind the scenes. “Ithink that some people in Russia want very much to make the RussianFederation authorities mad at me, so that they unequivocally considerme an enemy and a bandit,” Chichvarkin told Izvestia in an interview onNovember 25. After selling Yevroset in November 2008, Chichvarkinbriefly dabbled in politics and joined the Right Cause party, thenominally pro-Kremlin incarnation of the now defunct Union of RightForces (SPS) and a handful of other lesser-known liberal-rightmovements, including Civil Force and the Democratic Party of Russia.