By Artur Terian in Moscow
A little known Armenian businessman denied on Wednesday any involvement in the mysterious kidnapping of a top executive from Russia’s biggest oil company after Russian authorities named him among three suspects in the high-profile case.
Gagik Bghdoyan, who has extensive business interests in Russia, insisted on his innocence during a three-hour interrogation at the Moscow prosecutor’s office and was not formally charged or taken into custody afterwards.
Russian law-enforcement officials claimed earlier in the day that they have sufficient evidence showing that the September 12 abduction of Sergei Kukura, vice-president of the Lukoil giant, was orchestrated by Bghdoyan and two Ukrainian nationals. However, the head of the investigations department of Moscow police, Andrei Markov, said after Bghdoyan’s questioning that the Armenian was not involved in the kidnapping.
Kukura was unexpectedly released on September 25 by his abductors who had reportedly demanded a $6 million ransom.
"I want to know why they are looking for me. I am a respectable citizen," Bghdoyan told NTV television after his police sketches were shown by major Russian channels. He said he has never met Kukura.
Bghdoyan claims that he was in Armenia when the kidnapping took place and flew to Moscow to cooperate with investigators after learning that he is a prime suspect in the case.
The businessman is a major shareholder in the Russian-British joint venture Sin-Crystall which purchased an electronics factory in the Armenian town of Ashtarak last year.