9 Former Yevroset Employees Go on Trial

Nine former Yevroset employees, including vice president Boris Levin and deputy head of security Andrei Yermilov, went on trial Monday in the kidnapping of an ex-colleague.

The defendants pleaded not guilty at a preliminary hearing in the Moscow City Court, Gazeta.ru reported. The court will convene Saturday to select jury members, Interfax reported.

The Yevroset employees are charged with kidnapping Andrei Vlaskin in 2003 in retaliation for supposedly selling cell phones stolen from Yevroset.

Former Yevroset owner Yevgeny Chichvarkin, who fled to Britain in December 2008 and is fighting extradition on related charges, said he did not believe that the trial would be fair.

"I don't believe in the court's justice. Even with the jury trial. They can be pressured," Chichvarkin said, Interfax reported.

Chichvarkin founded Yevroset in 1997 and built it into the country's largest mobile phone retailer. He sold it in September to billionaire Alexander Mamut, citing liquidity problems.

Chichvarkin claimed in May that the police officers from the Interior Ministry's department for technology crimes had been harassing his company for years in a bid to take control of Yevroset.

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