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Russia objects to prolonged arrest of its citizen

New Delhi/Ropar, July 20 (Calcutta Tube) Russia Tuesday objected to the repeated postponement of the bail hearing of its citizen Olga Timoshik, who has been in the custody of the Punjab Police for almost a month for allegedly assisting a German spy.

Punjab Police have said the 31-year-old Timoshik was frequently changing her statements and not cooperating with them. The Russian embassy in New Delhi has written to the ministry of external affairs saying the court hearing to decide on her bail plea was Monday again postponed till July 26.

‘The ostensible reason is that the judge has not been as yet assigned for the case,’ the note reads, according to officials.

The hearing was to take place July 1, and ‘from then onward, for one reason or another, hearings were repeatedly postponed’, it said.

The embassy, it said, ‘is of the impression that the judgement on the issue is being delayed in the interests of the prosecution. No official charges have been as yet brought against the Russian.’

It accused police of ‘hindering the advocate (defence) from examining the case files and constantly feeding local media with hoaxes, discrediting the honour, dignity and reputation of Timoshik’.

The embassy has requested the Indian government ‘to render all possible assistance in conducting just and unbiased investigation of this case’.

This is the second note the embassy has sent to the government after the June 23 arrest of Timoshik.

In the first note July 7, the embassy wrote that the arrest without evidence was ‘detrimental to India’s image as a friendly nation among the Russian public at large’.

Timoshik was held from Jaipur and later taken to Punjab after German national Thomas Kuhn, a suspected spy who has been arrested, alleged that his missing passport was with Timoshik.

As mystery shrouds the entire affair, Deputy Superintendent of Police H.S. Hundal, Nangal in Ropar district, told IANS that Timoshik was ‘frequently changing her statements and is not cooperating with police’.

Police have also got the call details of Timoshik’s mobile phone and found that she frequently talked to a person called Sergy.

Hundal said the Russian had a lavish lifestyle and travelled to various places in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir before coming to Jaipur. ‘She has not been able to tell us anything about her source of income,’ the police officer said.

Police say Kuehn, disguised as a sadhu, had for many months been living on the banks of a river in Punjab’s Nangal town from where he was arrested in May. He hails from Hamburg. He did not have any visa documents or passport with him and said these were with his friend, Timoshik, who was in Nepal. However, Timoshik was found in Jaipur.

This was Kuehn’s second visit to India. In the last 10 years, Kuehn had visited various countries in Europe, America and Africa, police say.

Timoshik had been allowed consular access earlier this month.

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