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"Konanykhine's deportation order stopped"

The Winchester Star

August 4, 1997

By Kristen Green

A deportation order against a Russian millionaire accused of embezzling money from a Moscow bank has been dropped.

Alexandre P. Konanykhine (Koh-nen-EE-kin), who was held at the Regional Jail in Frederick County for most of the 13-month period he was imprisoned by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said his appeal of the deportation order was scheduled to be heard lase week.

The news that INS will abandon the deportation order follows Konanykhine's release from jail July 24 after his attorneys argued during habeas corpus proceedings that he had been unfairly accused of a crime, "illegally arrested and detained," and "that the INS committed a number of unlawful and criminal acts" to keep him in jail.

Konanykhine, 30, was allowed to return to his Washington, D.C., apartment with a monitoring bracelet after a former Immigration and Naturalization Service prosecutor and a Soviet KGB agent testified in the federal court hearing in Alexandria that they had serious doubts about the case against him.

Konanykhine said he is scheduled to meet with INS officials this week to discuss a settlement in the case.

"It's very exciting news just because it means the deportation order .. just doesn't exist any longer. I'm very confident and optimistic that, yes, it is behind me," Konanykhine said in a phone interview from his home Friday. "I proved all accusations against me were fraudulent....Finally, I know that the (court) system works."

"There is no assurance that no false accusations will be created. I just hope they won't be created."

Konanykhine has said since he and his wife, Elena Gratcheva, were arrested in July of 1996 on charges that they lied on their visa renewal forms that he will be killed if he is returned to his native Russia because he campaigned against corruption and KGB-organized crime.

An immigration judge based in Northern Virginia denied Konanykhine's request for political asylum in September 1996. Because there is no extradition treaty between Russia and the United States, the judge ordered Konanykhine and his wife be deported.

"At some point of time, (my future) was very grim," he said. "I was just afraid with all the evidence, I wouldn't be able to get the attention of any decision makers...It was a long year."

Now he will be attempting to get financial compensation for what happened during that year, he said.

Since his arrest, he accrued legal bills of more than $500,000, he lost his job, he lost his property, and the company he was working for was dismantled, he said.

"They ruined my finances and they seriously damaged the businesses I was involved in," he said.

Even worse, he said, his reputation has been damaged.

"I think I was put in jail wrongly in the first place because I have never violated any law in Russia or the United States."

Konanykhine
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Media About Alex

Washington Post:
Konanykhin, one of the first Russian millionaires after the fall of the commies, left in 1992 and was granted asylum here in 1999. He's built a very successful Web advertising business in New York City. He had been chosen "New York Businessman of the Year." "As such, you will be honored and presented with your award," NRCC chairman Thomas M. Reynolds (R-N.Y.) said, at a "special ceremony" April 1. " President Bush and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are our special invited guests.
CNN:
Alex Konanykhin controlled Russia's largest commercial bank in the 1990s
Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Konanykhin was a whiz-kid physics student who became a pioneering Russian capitalist in early 1990s, building a banking and investment empire valued at an estimated $300 million all by his mid-20s. He was a member of President Boris Yeltsin's inner circle.
The Baltimore Sun:
Business whiz kid.
WJLA TV / ABC:
Russian Bill Gates.
The Times:
By the time he was 25 he was one of the most important figures in post-Communist Russia. But in 1992, while on a business trip to Hungary, Alex Konanykhine was kidnapped.
The New York Times:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation notified Konanykhin that Russian organized crime figures had paid to have him killed.
CBS "60 Minutes":
Alex Konanykhin didn't only have KGB after him… He had the FBI, the Justice Department, even the CIA all on his case, as a favor to the Russians, part of a deal to allow the FBI to keep a bureau in Moscow.
Los Angeles Daily Journal:
Representing himself through much of the process, Konanykhin managed to convince an immigration judge of an alleged INS and KGB conspiracy and cover-up. Following the court's admonishment, the INS agreed to drop all charges and also pay $100,000..The judge also ordered an investigation of the Justice Department. In separate actions, Konanykhine subsequently won multimillion dollar libel judgments against two Russian newspapers. A $100 million lawsuit against the Justice Department is pending, alleging perjury, fraud, torture and witness tampering by U.S government officers on behalf of the Russian Mafia.
Profit Magazine:
Imagine you are a teenage physics genius who quickly amasses a $300 million empire of real estate and banking ventures, has dozens of cars, six hundred employees, several mansions and two hundred bodyguards—but you are nonetheless kidnapped by those you trusted, threatened with torture and death, and have your entire empire stolen from you one dark night in Budapest. You escape with your life by racing through Eastern-block countries and flying to New York on stashed-away passports—only to have the KGB and Russian Mafia hell-bent on your hide and the U.S. government jailing you and conspiring to serve you up into their clutches. All this before your 29th birthday. Sound like a Tom Clancy thriller? No. . . just a slice in the life of Alexander Konanykhine.