Russian prosecutors aren’t giving up hopes of convicting their former colleague Alexander Ignatenko on illegal gambling charges. Ignatenko’s attorney told the RAPSI news agency that investigators had given themselves until Nov. 28 to finish their probe into the former Moscow deputy prosecutor’s alleged illegal gambling operations.
Ignatenko fled Russia following a May 2011 crackdown on a chain of illegal casinos in and around Moscow run by businessman Ivan Nazarov. Ignatenko was extradited from Poland in January 2012 only to be released from pre-trial detention in July 2013 after it became obvious that his trial was still a long way off.
A little further south, police in Rosov-on-Don have accused a former Bingo Boom director of running an illegal operation. The Russian Investigative committee has accused Igor Talagayev of organizing illegal gambling between the fall of 2011 and February 2013. RAPSI reported that Bingo Boom received a license to offer national jackpot lotteries in June 2011. Shortly thereafter, it is alleged that Tagalayev had his own operation on the side, which generated revenue in excess of RUB 500m (US $12.5m).
OVER 71K ILLEGAL CASINOS CLOSED IN FIVE YEARS
It’s been five years since Russia banished most forms of gambling to four (now five) designated gambling zones and cracked down hard on any operator that stepped foot outside those zones. In January, Russia claimed it had shut down 61k illegal gaming operations since July 2009. Last month, Russia upped the ante, claiming to have now closed 71k facilities, seized 970k pieces of gambling equipment and opened 1,664 gambling prosecutions. Russia also issued fines of RUB 684m ($17.1m), although only about one-sixth of this sum has been collected.
Overzealous? Perhaps. But Vladimir Putin’s Russia doesn’t do subtle. Tuesday was Putin’s 62nd birthday and some favor-currying poly-sci student/fanboy created a series of Greek pottery art portraits of the Russian president as a tunic-clad Hercules. Pucules (Hercutin?) is depicted performing an updated 12 Labors, i.e. Putin battles a hydra of western economic sanctions, Putin uses his bow and arrow to keep Syria’s skies free from NATO planes, Putin subdues and chains a vicious oligarch, etc. You’re laughing now, but don’t be surprised if this student’s the next Moscow prosecutor … to get caught protecting illegal gambling operations.
RAY WITHDRAWS FROM RUSSIAN BORDER CASINO PROJECT
Putin’s real-life muscle flexing in the Ukraine and alleged comments about his ability to overpower other neighbors in a matter of weeks may have contributed to RAY’s decision to say ‘nyet’ to opening a casino on the border with Russia. Finland’s slot machine monopoly (which also has a Playtech-powered online casino) had planned to develop its second casino in Virolahti, home to the Vaalimaa Shopping Centre and the busiest border crossing between Finland and Russia. RAY managing director Velipekka Nummikosk declined to get into specifics, saying only that the decision to withdraw from the project was based on “delays and related uncertainty.” Plus, you know, the whole homoerotic hydra thing…