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Archive for Argentina

Newsline: German Police Arrest Suspected Mastermind in Russian Embassy Cocaine Scandal

German police have arrested the suspected mastermind of a busted drug smuggling operation that reportedly ran hundreds of kilograms of cocaine from South America to Moscow on a Russian presidential plane. Six people were arrested after nearly 400 kilograms of cocaine were discovered at the Russian Embassy school grounds in Buenos Aires, authorities said last week. The man who allegedly supplied the drugs, initially identified as “Mr. K” and later named as Andrei Kovalchuk, was reported to be in hiding in Germany after the story broke. “His wife called me and said that Kovalchuk was detained as part of the criminal case on narcotics,” Interfax cited Kovalchuk’s lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov as saying Friday. “As expected, the police intend to go to court for his arrest,” he added. An unnamed Russian law enforcement official told the Rosbalt news agency on Monday that Kovulchuk had previously been employed as a staff member at the Russian Embassy in Berlin. Russia’s Foreign Ministry released a statement Tuesday denying that Kovalchuk was ever employed by Russia’s diplomatic missions in Germany and “in general never worked for the Foreign Ministry.” Before his arrest, Kovalchuk claimed that he had been set-up in a “well-organized provocation” by American authorities, saying that his Argentinian suitcases with coffee, cigars and alcohol had been replaced by cocaine.



Newsline: Russian Embassy in Germany says man featured in coke case was not staff member

Reports claiming that the suspected mastermind of a criminal scheme for shipping drugs from Argentina to Russia, Andrei Kovalchuk used to be a member of personnel at the Russian embassy in Germany are totally fictitious and contradict reality, Denis Mikerin, the embassy’s press attache wrote on Facebook. “I was really surprised when I came across a story published by Rosbalt Internet portal, which claimed on the background the ongoing flow of concoctions that the man suspected of organizing the criminal scheme, Andrei Kovalchuk, had been a member of the staff of the Russian embassy in Germany,” he wrote. “Quite naturally, the journalists drew far-fetched conclusions.” Mikerin promised the mission would verify the information in detail. “We can state with a hundred percent assuredness that, to the best of our knowledge, Kovalchuk never had a position on the staff of our embassy while the information circulated by Rosbalt simply stands at variance with reality,” he said. The Foreign Ministry said earlier the Russian and Argentine law enforcement agencies had held a joint operation to plug a channel for delivery of a large consignment of drugs (389 km of coke) to the European market and had detained the suspects, who were Argentine and Russian citizens.


Newsline: Russian Foreign Ministry says cocaine found at embassy in Argentina unrelated to diplomatic mail

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has rejected media reports that cocaine discovered in one of the facilities of Russia’s embassy in Argentina has any relation to diplomatic mail, Zakharova wrote on the Facebook page of the Russian Foreign Ministry on Saturday. Earlier, some media outlets said that cocaine had been found in several suitcases that were alleged diplomatic mail of the Russian embassy to Argentina. “The news circulated by the media that it was diplomatic mail are not true. A technical worker was dealing with these white but foul things,” Zakharova wrote. “However, diplomatic mail is readied by diplomats.” “The technical worker had neither a diplomatic passport not access to diplomatic mail,” she said. Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that law enforcement agencies of Russia and Argentina carried out a joint operation to cut off a channel smuggling a large batch of narcotic drugs (cocaine) to Europe. Suspects, Argentine as well as Russian nationals, have been detained.



Newsline: 400 kilos of cocaine found in Russian embassy in Argentina

Six people, including a former Russian diplomat and an Argentinian police officer, have been arrested following an investigation into cocaine smuggling through the Russian Embassy in Buenos Aires. The arrests were the result of a joint operation between Russia and Argentina which began in December 2016 when cocaine was discovered on the embassy’s grounds. “We have dismantled an international cocaine trafficking organization operating between Argentina, Russia and Germany,” Argentina’s Security Minister Patricia Bullrich told journalists on Thursday. Russia’s Ambassador to Argentina Viktor Koronelli in late 2016 alerted local authorities after finding 16 bags of drugs hidden in a school on the embassy’s grounds. Argentinian police seized the 389 kilograms of cocaine worth over $60 million and replaced it with bags of flour fitted with a tracking device, Reuters reports. The bags were then traced as they were shipped to Russia as diplomatic luggage in December last year. Two men who collected the bags in Russia have been arrested. Bullrich named a “Mr. K,” who “remains at large in Germany” as responsible for supplying the cocaine to the Russian Embassy. A former embassy official identified as Ali Abyanov, who reportedly helped plan the shipment, was detained at his apartment in Moscow on Thursday, media report.



Newsline: Chile Condemns Attack on Argentine Embassy in Santiago

Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Muñoz condemned the attack by a group of masked men on the Argentine Embassy in Santiago. “We express our repudiation of those who supposedly protested by abusing democracy and freedom of expression, engaging in what Chile’s government considers an unacceptable act of aggression,” Muñoz said after meeting with Argentine Ambassador Jose Octavio Bordon. The masked assailants attacked the Argentine Embassy on Monday during a protest over the death of Santiago Maldonado, a 28-year-old Indian activist whose body was found on Oct. 17 in southern Argentina’s Chubut River. Maldonado went missing on Aug. 1 after fleeing from border police who broke up a demonstration by Mapuche Indians near Esquel in Chubut province. The protesters threw stones and flaming objects at the embassy in downtown Santiago on Monday, then broke down the building’s door. “Embassies are inviolable. Even during the dictatorship, I don’t remember a situation like this in which anyone vandalized, broke windows in a friendly embassy, of a country with which we have built confidence and friendship,” the Chilean foreign minister said. The police officer assigned to guard the embassy was outnumbered in the disturbances, Muñoz said, adding that security would be tightened around the diplomatic facility. “The government will take all the measures necessary to protect this embassy,” the Chilean foreign minister said. Ambassador Bordon, for his part, thanked Muñoz for visiting the embassy and said that the attack “does not express the cultural values of our countries and we are not going to allow ourselves to be defeated by violence.”



Newsline: Argentine President lashes out at US interim ambassador for ‘provocative’ report on crime in Argentina

Argentine President questioned the warning message issued on Tuesday by the US Embassy in Buenos Aires, saying it is “in line” with anti-government media, and seriously doubting interim ambassador in Buenos Aires Kevin Sullivan’s intentions with the note. The security message said US citizens have reported a number of crimes to the embassy and it went on to recommend that US citizens traveling and living in Argentina should “always be aware of their surroundings and maintain a high level of vigilance”. “The note is a provocation. Usually, when the embassy issues this type of warning messages, it focuses on specific events such as political rallies or hostage situations which can be dangerous to US citizens,” the Argentine president explained. “In this case, the threat is not specific. It describes Argentina as if we were living in the far-west,” she added, and went on to doubt US interim ambassador in Buenos Aires Kevin Sullivan’s intentions with the note. “Let me tell you, I’m not mad and they are not going to make me furious, as president of the 40 million Argentines, the first thing I demand is respect, that they respect us as a country”.



Newsline: Argentina summons US diplomat over ‘default’ comment

Argentina has summoned the acting US ambassador to Buenos Aires over his inappropriate comments on the Latin American country’s failure to repay its debts to US companies. Kevin Sullivan, the charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Buenos Aires, told Argentine newspaper Clarin that it was important for Argentina to exit default as soon as possible in order to attract foreign investment and return to the path of growth. However, his comments angered the Argentine government and the foreign ministry summoned Sullivan. Sullivan’s comments were “incorrect, unfortunate and inappropriate,” said cabinet chief Jorge Capitanich. “They constitute undue interference in the country’s sovereignty.”