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Former vice-president of Russia's Olympic Committee claims poisoning attempt

April 29, 2013, 11:12 UTC+3

In the businessman's opinion, mercury could have been spilt in his Moscow office

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A former vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee, former head of the Northern Caucasus Resorts company Akhmed Bilalov who is a suspect in an abuse of office case, is undergoing treatment in Germany for mercury poisoning. In the businessman's opinion, mercury could have been spilt in his Moscow office. Investigators are ready to run a check. Law-enforcers do not rule out that Bilalov might ask for political asylum in Western Europe.

Former head of Northern Caucasus Resorts Akhmed Bilalov left the country in February, the Komsomolskaya Pravda reminds. He allegedly left Russia for treatment. However, the coincidence is that his departure occurred immediately after criticism by President Vladimir Putin. In early February, the vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee was accused of overstating the cost of construction of sports facilities in Sochi and fired from all his posts. Next, a multi-million-rouble misuse of budget money was exposed. Bilalov now claims somebody tried to poison him.

"They found a high concentration of mercury in my body," said the official who had fallen out of favor, "I'm receiving treatment in Germany. I'm in satisfactory condition. The most unpleasant thing is that I was in contact with the source of poisoning for a long time. Upon returning to Moscow, I plan to ask law-enforcement bodies to look into the situation."

In unofficial comments, police said if the businessman asked for political asylum, the mercury poisoning incident might help him have his request granted, the Kommersant notes. In this connection, they recalled the situation with former Bank of Moscow head Andrei Borodin. In April 2012, the British mass media, citing secret services, said an assassination attempt on the banker's life had been prepared and that the killer had refused to carry out the hit. Great Britain granted political asylum to Borodin in February.

The experts, polled by the Izvestia, have been ambivalent regarding Bilalov's mercury poisoning statement. Well-known lawyer Vladimir Zherebyonkov said he believed Bilalov's statement might help him obtain the status of political refugee.

"Bilalov's criminal prosecution began after critical remarks by the president. If it turns out that his life was endangered in Russia, the West will certainly take this point into account in considering the extradition issue," Zherebyonkov explained.

In the lawyer's opinion, the businessman in disgrace has all the chances to stay in the West. "They’ve always been more loyal to rich people abroad than to the poor. As for Bilalov, returning to Russia in this situation would be a crazy thing to do."

Well-known lawyer Yevgeny Chernousov believes that the poisoners should be looked for among Bilalov's close associates or his business rivals.

I fully rule out the version about Russian secret services’ involvement in the assassination attempt on Akhmed Bilalov's life," the expert said, "they would have framed themselves in that case." As Bilalov, the poisoning scandal would come in handy to him in getting political asylum," Chernousov said.

Meanwhile, neither the Emergency Situations Ministry nor the Rospotrebnadzor Federal Service for Supervision of Consumers Protection and Welfare have carried out decontamination of the "poisoned quarters."

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