A suspected Ukrainian mobster has been charged with orchestrating the kidnapping of a fellow countryman who supposedly owed him money.
Illia Maisnikov, 48, was arrested Sept. 26 at his Real Diamond TV Co. on Jomtien Second Road following the earlier arrests of three Thais he allegedly hired to kidnap 29-year-old Alexander Konratenko outside the Shakespeare Hotel in Jomtien Beach a day earlier.
Maisnikov was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and robbery. He denied all the charges. Achanai Inpan, 20, and Piya Inpan, 35, of Chiang Rai; and Wuthiphat Thimthiem, 49, of Banglamung were charged with kidnapping, robbery and impersonating police.
The ordeal began for Konratenko when he went to the Welcome Beach Hotel in Jomtien Sept. 26 to meet a foreign man said to be interested in buying his motorbike. The buyer never showed and, as Konratenko was ready to leave, a Honda City pulled up and three men got out, claiming to be Chonburi Immigration Police officers. All carried walkie-talkies and had badges, Konratenko told police.
Achanai allegedly told the Ukrainian that police had been searching for him for three years for cheating tourists with fake tour packages and not refunding rental-car deposits. They told him he faced 10 years in jail and put him in the compact sedan. Konratenko realized the men were not real officers when they took him to bungalow in North Pattaya where they took 4,800 baht from him, he told police.
Konratenko said the kidnappers demanded 300,000 baht, then upped the demand to 1 million baht after speaking to “their boss” on the telephone. Konratenko said he negotiated the ransom down to 500,000 baht, but convinced the Thais he needed to meet a friend near the Ambassador City Hotel to borrow the money.
While waiting for his friend at a 7-Eleven in front of the hotel, he screamed for help and gained the assistance of two Russian tourists. Realizing their gig was up, the Thais fled. No ransom money was ever exchanged.
The kidnappers’ faces were captured on security camera footage at the convenience store and, based on interrogation of Achanai and Piya, as well as Konratenko’s statement, police picked up Maisnikov, who police allege is connected to an Eastern European crime gang. Wuthiphat turned himself in later.
Police alleged Maisnikov runs scams that cheat Eastern European tourists and, when they go to authorities for help, he offers to act as a mediator for a handsome fee. Those who do not pay, like Konratenko are threatened or even kidnapped for ransom, police said.