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Russian Tycoon Ismailov Seeks Asylum In Montenegro After Arrest On Moscow Warrant


Telman Ismailov

An Azerbaijan-born Russian billionaire wanted by Moscow for allegedly ordering contract murders has been detained in Montenegro.

Local media in Montenegro reported on October 2 that Telman Ismailov is seeking asylum in the Balkan country, a day after he was arrested in Podgorica on an international arrest warrant issued by Russia.

The newspaper Vijesti reported that the political asylum request could complicate Ismailov's extradition to Russia from Montenegro, where his son Alekper Ismailov owns a casino in the coastal town of Budva.

Ismailov is accused in Russia of financing the 2016 killing of two businessmen in the Moscow region, as well as of the abduction of a singer in 2004.

The tycoon has long been a target of President Vladimir Putin, who was reportedly critical of Ismailov's flashy and extravagant lifestyle.

Ismailov -- once one of the best-connected businessmen in Russia -- built the massive outdoor Cherkizovsky market in Moscow, only to have it closed in 2009 for "sanitary and safety violations" and conducting illegal activities.

At the time, Russia's Investigative Committee accused the market of operating as a "state within a state," with its own laws and security.

Critics say the closure of Cherkizovsky market may have been part of a struggle for valuable Moscow real estate. Ismailov ultimately fled Russia and his properties were confiscated to pay debts.

The market's closure came weeks after Putin berated Ismailov for holding a lavish inauguration party at his massive five-star Mardan Place hotel in Turkey at a time Russians were suffering following the 1998 financial crisis in the country. He also suggested billions of dollars made in Russia should be invested in the country, rather than on glitzy projects abroad.

Eyewitnesses at the party said they saw $100 bills being released from the ceiling to shower over the guests, including Hollywood stars and Russian elites.

Vijesti reported that one of Ismailov's guests at the party was Montenegro's then-prime minister, and now president, Milo Dukanovic.

With reporting by AFP, Vijesti, and Current Time
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