Arrested in Italy at the FBI request, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov is currently at Venice's prison Santa Maria Maggiore, where he is expecting extradition to US authorities, Colonel Giovanni Mainulti, tax police commander of Veneto district, told a news conference on Thursday.
According to him, Tokhtakhounov, who was arrested on Wednesday July 31 at the Italian resort of Forte dei Marmi, is accused of attempting to exert pressure on judges in the course of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Italy's financial guards, the colonel noted, had watched Tokhtakhounov for a year, suspending him of activities connected with money laundering.
While tapping telephone conversations of the suspect in February, the Italian law enforcement bodies to their surprise, as Mainulti emphasised, found in Tokhtakhounov's actions attempts to exert pressure on the award of medals in figure skating competitions in Salt Lake City.
In particular, the police intercepted conversations between Tokhtakhounov and another Russian in Salt Lake City whose name was withheld. What they discussed was the possibility of influencing judges, Mainulti noted.
The Rome prosecutor's office opened an independent investigation into the activities of the suspect in a case of causing damage to Italian figure skaters Barbara Fusar and Maurizio Margalgo, who were placed only 3rd at the Winter Olympics. The Italian figure skaters are insisting that the Olympic results should be reviewed.
According to Mainulti, Tokhtakhounov has been living in Italy for a long time. He has properties at Forte dei Marmi, Rome and Milan.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to go to the 77th UN General Assembly in September