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Prosecutors Seek Arrest Of Russian Mobile-Phone Tycoon

Yevgeny Chichvarkin
MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Prosecutors in Russia are seeking the arrest of businessman Yevgeny Chichvarkin on charges of kidnapping and blackmail, a court official said.

The charges against the mobile phone retail tycoon, one of Russia's most flamboyant businessmen, relate to the 2003 kidnapping and blackmail of a former employee believed to have stolen from the company, local media reported.

A petition for the arrest of Yevgeny Chichvarkin will be considered on January 28 by Moscow's Basmanny Court, said Anna Usachyova, a spokeswoman for the Moscow court service.

A lawyer representing Chichvarkin, Yury Gervis, was quoted by Interfax news agency as denying his client had anything to do with the case.

Chichvarkin's personal assistant said he had left Russia but would not say where he was.

The "Kommersant" business newspaper, which featured a front-page photograph of Chichvarkin wearing red and orange boots and his trademark mullet hairstyle, quoted a source as saying he was in London.

Chichvarkin, 34, expanded his Euroset mobile phone retail chain from two to 5,000 stores in less than a decade. Last year, the company reported revenues of more than $3 billion.

In November, Chichvarkin announced he had sold his 50-percent stake in the company as a result of the global squeeze on credit.

Media reports said the company was sold for $1.25 billion dollars, $850 million of which was used to pay off debts.

Euroset has since said it has cut all ties with Chichvarkin.

The sale came weeks after prosecutors arrested two senior company officials on charges related to the 2003 kidnapping.51242)
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