MOSCOW, March 1 (RAPSI) – Andrey Kovalchuk, one of the defendants in a criminal case over attempted cocaine smuggling from Argentina to Russia, has appealed a Moscow court’s ruling to arrest him in absentia, lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov has told RAPSI.

According to the attorney, charges were brought against Kovalchuk in his absence and no measures were taken to locate and notify him about court hearings despite him staying in touch. Under these circumstances he could not defend himself, Zherebenkov said.

The criminal case against unidentified number of persons was launched last November but despite provisions of the law no criminal case was opened against Kovalchuk himself, the lawyer noted.

Kovalchuk, along with Vladimir Kalmykov, Ishtimir Khudzhamov and Ali Abayanov, is charged with attempted drug smuggling on especially large scale. Earlier, Kalmykov and Khudzhamov were detained until April 13, while Abayanov was ordered to stay in detention until April 12. Kovalchuk was put on the international wanted list.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, law enforcement authorities of Russia and Argentina have collaboratively suppressed delivery of a large consignment of drugs (cocaine) from Argentina to Europe. The drugs ready for delivery were found in one of the Russian embassy buildings in Buenos Aires in 2016. Cocaine allegedly belonged to an embassy technical staff member, whose duty journey was over by that time. During the conducted operation, Russian and Argentinean citizens were arrested, the ministry’s statement reads.