Cops boost hunt for missing Russian

Phuket: Police are stepping up efforts in the search for a missing Russian man in Phuket after his Russian girlfriend, who was feared kidnapped, was discovered injured but alive in a hotel room there on Sunday.

A police team comprising officers from the Tourist Police Division, the Immigration Bureau, and Phuket Provincial Police Headquarters yesterday combed areas around the island to find Alexei Slabinskiy, 39, without success.

Phuket Provincial Police commander Pol Maj Gen Ongart Phiewruangnont said his team will continue the search for Mr Slabinskiy until they track him down.

Mr Slabinsky, a property businessman, and his 23-year-old Russian girlfriend Yana Strizheus, arrived in Phuket on Aug 2, 2013 on student visas.

They were studying Thai at a language school. The couple were reported missing on March 13 after making a series of phone calls.

Pol Maj Gen Ongart said investigations found that before they went missing the Russian couple had made several overseas calls to their friends and relatives in Russia, claiming they were in trouble in Phuket and urgently needed US$100,000 (3.2 million baht) to sort out their problem.

Pol Maj Gen Ongart said after making their phone calls, their cell phones went dead.

Their relatives in Russia were concerned about their safety and asked the Russian embassy in Thailand to contact tourist police in Phuket. They feared the couple may have been kidnapped.

According to the Phuket News, Ms Strizheus called her sister in Russia on March 13 and told her she had been kidnapped. “If I don’t arrive back in Vladivostok tomorrow, that means I’m already dead,’’ her sister quoted Ms Strizheus as saying.

According to the sister, the conversation lasted for only 30 seconds, and after that Ms Strizheus’ phone went dead again.

Pol Maj Gen Ongart said on Sunday morning a team of police, Russian embassy staff and two Russian relatives of the Russian couple travelled to inspect the couple’s luxury house in tambon Kamala of Kathu district.

Authorities did not find anything that could help locate the couple. No one was at home.

“Shortly after receiving the complaint about the missing couple, we carried out a secret operation to locate them and found Ms Strizheus on Sunday at a hotel in tambon Choeng Thale of Thalang district after a maid told us where she was,’’ he said.

He said police went to the hotel and found blood stains on a bed sheet. Soft drink bottles, whisky, beer, detergent and torn-up Thai banknotes were also scattered on the floor.

The Russian woman checked in at the hotel on March 14. Further investigations were also being made to seek more details about how the Russian woman arrived at the hotel, who she travelled with to get there, and how she was injured. They also want to know about the disappearance of her boyfriend, he said.

Ms Strizheus was taken to Thalang Hospital last night before being transferred to Vachira Phuket Hospital in Muang district. She had sustained knife wounds to her neck, wrists and hands, but her life was not in danger.

“She is the key witness in the case but so far she has been unable to say anything about it,’’ Pol Maj Gen Ongart said.

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