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    Wednesday, July 14, 2004

U.S. deports Russia mafia suspect

MOSCOW, Russia (AP) -- A notorious alleged Russian mafia leader who spent years in prison in the United States arrived in Moscow on Wednesday [July 14, 2004] after being deported at the request of Russian authorities.

Vyacheslav Ivankov, who was released from a maximum-security U.S. prison on Tuesday, arrived at a Moscow- area airport, said Svetlana Petrenko, a spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General's Office. Ivankov, 64, faces murder charges in the 1992 shooting deaths of two Turkish citizens in an argument in the cloakroom of a Moscow restaurant. Petrenko said Ivankov, who was charged in absentia, would be presented with the charges soon -- probably Thursday -- in the presence of a lawyer.

IvankovIvankov had skipped out on probation in Russia more than a decade ago. He was arrested in the United States in 1995 after trying to extort $3.5 million from two men who owned an investment advisory firm serving Russian emigres.

Alexander Volkov and Vladimir Voloshin first resisted but later agreed to pay the extortion money after they were kidnapped and Voloshin's father was beaten to death in a Moscow train station, authorities said. Instead of paying Ivankov, Volkov and Voloshin went to the FBI, which was able to put together a case largely through intercepted cellphone conversations.

IvankovAfter a six-week trial, Ivankov was convicted of conspiracy and attempted extortion in 1996 and sentenced early the following year to more than 9 1/2 years in prison. Nicknamed Yaponchik, or "Little Japanese," because of his vaguely Asian appearance, Ivankov spent 10 years in a Soviet prison for running a ring of thieves before authorities say he bribed a judge to gain early release in 1991.

He quickly disappeared, resurfacing among the Russian immigrant community in Brooklyn, New York, in 1993.


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