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ATHENS, September 1 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s consulate-general in Thessaloniki is in close contact with Russian citizen Vladimir Gavrilov, detained in Greece at the request of Peru, Russian Consul-General Alexei Popov told Itar-Tass.
Peru alleges Gavrilov was involved in an international criminal group, which had supplied 10,000 Kalashnikov rifles to the rebel group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 1999 and demands his extradition.
According to the diplomat, on August 27, the officer on duty at the consulate received a call from Vladimir Ivanovich Gavrilov, who said that he had been detained by the police in Greece and that he was at the police headquarters in Thessaloniki. "In the morning the consulate official on duty visited the department and talked to the detainees and police," said Popov. “It turned out that Gavrilov had been detained at Cassandra Palace in Halkidiki on the basis of a reuqest from Interpol and the Republic of Peru and accused of smuggling weapons to Peru and Columbia. Gavrilov was given the appropriate consular assistance and essentials, and a meeting was organized with his wife, who was with him on vacation in Greece. They were given the address and other contact information of a Russian-speaking lawyer, with whom Gavrilov agreed on legal assistance."
Popov said that on August 29 the detainee was brought before a Greek prosecutor, who authorized his detention for 30 days. During this period, the documents must be received from the Peruvian side, on the basis of which a decision on his possible extradition might be made. "Gavrilov denies his guilt. He said that the alleged incident in question dates back to 1999, while he was in Peru in 2003 at a trade show and has no relation to arms trade,” said Popov. “Representatives from our Consulate visit him, we are in contact with him. He asked for books and personal hygiene items, we’ve got for him all he has asked for. He does not complain about the conditions of detention and is waiting for the outcome of this case. We gave him phone cards he can now make calls to Moscow and his wife, who on August 31 had gone to Russia."
According to the consul-general, Gavrilov asked for extradition to Russia, but there is a technical problem. For somebody’s extradition shomewhere there has to be an appropriate request, and this does not quite fit this situation, because in Russia there is no case against Gavrilov.
"At this point a lot remains unclear about this investigation,” said Popov. “In particular, the Peruvians claim that Gavrilov was the commander of the aircraft that dropped the Kalashnikovs for the local guerillas, while he says that he has never been a pilot and is unable to fly an aircraft. This has to be cleared up. We paid attention to an article in Kommersant, which says that perhaps his passport data had been used by another person. The more so, since that transaction was supervised by the head of the secret service under the former president of Peru, so such a substitution was probably no problem for him."
The consul-general remarked it was difficult to say how the affiar would develop in the coming days.
"When the Peruvians send in something, the Greeks will consider that and make a decision,” he said. “Now, I think the focus of attention has been moved to Moscow (Gavrilov’s wife, who is back to Russia, is going to behave actively) and to the Peruvian capital Lima, where, I hope, officials will understand what happened in 1999 and who was really to blame."
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on August 30 that it was closely following the case Russian citizen Vladimir Gavrilov, who was detained on August 27 in Thessaloniki at the request of Peru.