Five Russians have been arrested in Thailand on charges of assaulting, coercing, illegally detaining and robbing a married couple from Belarus in Phuket.

Five Russian citizens have been detained in Thailand on suspicion of kidnapping and extorting the equivalent of 30 million baht or 848 thousand US dollars in cryptocurrency from a Belarusian couple in Phuket. The incident occurred on January 31 in a well-known hotel in the Talad Yai area in the centre of Phuket.

A tourist walking nearby witnessed the couple being forcibly forced into a black Hyundai van with a red number plate and reported the incident to police. The next day, the police found the victims, Albert Viviankov and his wife, and with the help of an interpreter, they found out the details of the crime.

The couple was kidnapped near their residence, less than 2 kilometres away from the crime scene, and held in a rented house where the Belarusians were forced to transfer $801’200 worth of cryptocurrency.

The Phuket Provincial Investigation Department found a white Fortuner passenger car with a red Phuket Provincial licence plate parked outside the rented house. Inside the vehicle, police found evidence, including knives, duct tape, rope and energy drinks belonging to the perpetrators, according to police.

The victims said they had visited a shop in Chalong before the abduction, and when they were returning home, the pair were intercepted by three assailants in a Hyundai with red number plates. The assailants covered the man’s head with a black bag and used physical violence to force him to transfer cryptocurrency. After receiving the money, the criminals released the couple a kilometre away from the abduction site.

After gathering evidence and witness testimony, authorities issued arrest warrants for the five suspects: Zalim Nalchikov, 37; Oleg Bogdanov, 30; Azamat Nagofov, 36; Islam Abdokov, 29, and Aslan Abazov, 36, all Russian citizens. The suspects were detained and charged with serious offences, including extortion and imprisonment, Khaosod reported.

Due to the traumatic event, Thai authorities, including the Phuket Immigration, Tourist Police, Phuket Police Station, Provincial Investigation Department and Special Branch, have provided protection to the victims. The victims expressed satisfaction with the way the police handled the case.

The suspects have been charged with robbery, coercion, joint assault and unlawful detention, according to article numbers provided by the local police station. The horrific ordeal of the Belarusians highlights the growing concern about cryptocurrency-related crime and the importance of international cooperation in combating transnational criminal activity.

In addition, Phuket residents have expressed dissatisfaction with the sharp increase in the number of Russian migrants, citing economic and social concerns. The authorities took action against illegal activities while recognising the economic contribution of Russians.

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