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Russian couple caught touting monkeys in Phuket

PHUKET: A Russian couple were arrested on Koh Khai Nok yesterday afternoon (March 14), accused of possession of three baby macaques – a protected species.


Naraporn Tuarob

Friday 15 March 2013, 10:54AM


Officers of the Natural Resources and Environment Department’s Crime Suppression Division visited the island after receiving information that the couple were offering tourists on the island the chance to be photographed with the monkeys.

The officers were told that the couple – Andrey Olegovich Belov, 31, and Ekaterina Nikolaevna Denisovich, 22 – had been visiting the island daily for several weeks, charging tourists B200 to be photographed with two of the monkeys, or B300 with all three.

Although Koh Kai Nok is in Phang Nga Province, it was getting late by the time they had been arrested, so they were taken to Phuket City Police Station for initial processing.

At first, the couple told police that the monkeys belonged to them, and Belov produced paperwork which he said confirmed this.

However, officers discovered the paperwork consisted only of health records, and the names of an animal hospital in Chalong and of a microchip installation company.

The couple then told the police that the macaques belonged to a friend, Alexander Gabetz, but that he had gone back to Russia so they were looking after the animals for him.

All three monkeys – named Anthony, Sam and Sonya – had microchips in their bodies and appeared to be in good health.

Police concluded that the couple had no government paperwork confirming their right to be in possession of a protected species. The macaques have therefore been seized and will be given into the care of Awat Nithikul, Senior Forest Academic at Khao Phra Taew Forest Preserve, before eventually being released into the wild.

Belov and Denisovich are due to appear at the police station on Koh Yao Noi today, to be formally charged. They are expected to receive bail.

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