Polonsky may be freed from Cambodian prison on Wednesday - ex-partner

Russian businessman Sergei Polonsky may be freed from prison in Cambodia on Wednesday, Polonsky's friend and former partner in foreign projects Sergei Vladi, who is familiar with the situation, told Interfax on Tuesday.

"I do not rule out this option; I very much hope so," Vladi said on the phone from Cambodia.

He said the judge had confirmed that he had accepted a statement of the sailors that dropped their claims to the Russians.

"The claim has been withdrawn. The judge has accepted the defense's request for changing the charges from criminal to administrative," he said.

Polonsky, Alexander Karachinsky and Konstantin Baglai were arrested in Sihanoukville on Dec. 31. They were charged with violence and illegal confinement, were taken into custody for an indefinite time, and face up to three years in prison.

According to media reports, the six-member crew of a Cambodian boat picked up the three Russians off the island of Ko Rong, from which the Russians were planning to return to the mainland. Polonsky threatened the skipper with a knife, then locked him in a cabin and forced some of the sailors to jump into the water, media reports said.

On January 11, Vladi said: "Apparently, [Polonsky's] lawyer has reached an agreement that the crew of the vessel will accept Polonsky's apologies and will be paid compensation. I don't know that the sum is, but it isn't an exorbitant sum," Vladi told Interfax.

"Sergei has always been protesting his innocence, but has never refused to apologize. If such a misunderstanding has taken place and there was a fight, he's happy to apologize - and has, in fact, apologized already," Vladi said.

On January 12 Vladi said Polonsky was going to seek Cambodian citizenship.

"Sergei Polonsky has sent a letter to the king of Cambodia in which he apologizes to him for the trouble he has caused and apologizes to the people of Cambodia. He says it was a misunderstanding and complains a little about the conditions in prison. He also says that, when his name is cleared of accusations of crimes that he has never committed, he will ask the king for citizenship," Vladi said.

Vladi said the king\'s office had confirmed the receipt of the letter. "Confirmation has come that the letter has been received. A receipt from the office of the king of Cambodia has been handed over to Polonsky," Vladi said, adding that Polonsky planned to develop business in Cambodia if he were acquitted.

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