Russia detains Frenchman wanted by Uzbekistan: embassy

29th January 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russia has detained a Frenchman at a Moscow airport at the request of the Uzbek authorities, a spokesman for the French embassy in Moscow told AFP.

The Fergananews.com Central Asian news website said the man detained is linked to the eldest daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, Gulnara Karimova, who has recently fallen from favour.

"A Frenchman was arrested at the request of the Uzbek authorities," a spokesman for the French embassy said, naming the man as Eric Cokini.

Russia's interior ministry said Wednesday that a 48-year-old Frenchman was detained after he arrived at Moscow's Sheremetyevo international airport on a flight from the southern French city of Nice.

The ministry said the detained man was "internationally wanted on suspicion of committing a series of economic crimes", the ministry said in a statement.

"The Uzbek authorities have been informed about the detention of the wanted man. The question of his extradition to Uzbekistan is being resolved," it added.

The interior ministry said it had information that the suspect, while previously living in Uzbekistan "along with accomplices for several years, embezzled money through misappropriation of funds given by foreign countries, financial structures and banks, intended to finance major investment programmes and projects."

A criminal probe was opened into the case by Uzbekistan in 2011, the Russian ministry said.

Cokini is set to appear before a judge on Thursday, the French embassy spokesman said, adding that the French consul has visited him several times.

According to Fergananews.com , Cokini "organised deliveries of perfume to Tashkent, directly or indirectly creating this business on behalf of the eldest daughter of the president, Gulnara Karimova."

A page on Karimova's website described Cokini as "the honorary consul of Uzbekistan in France" in 2010.

A Google search found a page -- since removed -- on the website of the French embassy of Uzbekistan saying that in 2011 Cokini was decorated as a Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Merite.

Karimova, who has long managed to combine politics with a career as a pop star, fashion designer and head of charitable foundations and was seen as a possible successor to her 75-year-old father, has suffered a spectacular fall from power in recent months.

Her media empire including several television channels has been shut down, and more than a dozen boutiques selling Western clothes in Tashkent that are believed to belong to her or to business partners have been closed on allegations of tax evasion and other charges.


© 2014 AFP

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