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A photograph showing the Russian couple and monkeys at work

Russians from Phuket Operating Monkey Photo Ops for Tourists, Say Police

Thursday, March 14, 2013
UPDATE

Andrey Belov, 31, and Ekaerina Denisovich, 22, have been charged with several offences relating to possession of the macaques and were taken to Phang Nga on Friday.

Original Report

PHUKET: A Russian couple were arrested late today for touting three monkeys for tourist photo oppportunities on a day-trip island off Phuket.

Officers from the Natural Resources and Environment Crime Suppression Unit nabbed the couple on Kai Island, an atoll especially popular with tourists from Japan, China and Korea.

With them were three macaque monkeys, taken into custody last night at Phuket City Police Station.

The plain clothes officers, investigating the alleged ''ownership'' of the popular island, discovered the couple and the monkeys today.

''The Russians were taking money from the tourists to have their photo taken with the monkeys,'' the officer said.

''We understand this has been going on for about a year.''

Names of the couple had not been revealed this evening as the man returned to their home in the Phuket west coast destination of Karon, south of Patong, to collect passports and documents they claim prove their ownership.

The investigation will move off Phuket to Ko Yao island tomorrow because Kai Island, a popular calling spot for Phuket tourists, is actually in the neighboring province of Phang Nga.

Ownership cards produced for the three macaques listed the name Alexander Gabets.

The arrests come with the CITES international gathering in Bangkok looking at wildlife issues in Thailand.

A crackdown is also currently taking place to drive photo touts abusing slow lorises and other protected creatures off Phuket's streets.

Monkeys Sonya (eight months, female) Sam (one year, male) and Antony (one year, male) were stuck in a carry cage that did not allow them much room. No details have been revealed about how they were cared for or conditions in captivity.

The macaques - not natives to Phuket - will be taken to Phuket's Gibbon Refuge Centre in Kathu for future care.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Quite extraordinary! How did the Thais put up with this for so long? I know it's an illegal practice, but still the domain of Thais.

Just as amazing as my last fleeting visit to Patong for 1st night time visit in more than 1 year. I could not believe my eyes that Russian women were parading brazenly around the top end of Soi Bangla with signs advertising Russian Go Go bars (2 off) with Russian strippers.

There are ever increasing numbers of Russian buses & mini buses on the roads.

Where is all this going? Has Thailand sold its soul to the devil?

Posted by Logic on March 14, 2013 23:30

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Weird, really - the Russians are the new Thais.

Posted by Swami K. on March 15, 2013 02:23

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So was the issue that they were abusing animals or that they were working in a profession reserved for Thais? There are Thai's based in Rawai that use big Macaques to pick coconuts. They drive around openly with them chained up in the back. These in the photo look to be northern pig-tailed macaques, which are originally from Thailand and surrounding regions, and whose conservation status is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.

Posted by NomadJoe on March 15, 2013 08:37

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Russians no good for Patong or Thailand in general i have seen this over the last three years its getting worse every day ,soon it will be know as a Russian island if it isnt already , i have thousands of stories i can tell all true ,i hope you print this ,this time !

Posted by Harry on March 15, 2013 11:16

Editor Comment:

If only you could sort out your commas, Harry.

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Many Thais and foreigners have over the years said to me money can buy everything in Thailand. Enough said.

Posted by Happy Farang on March 15, 2013 11:31

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Editor, the use, or abuse, off comma's should not be a valid reason to refuse a comment. At first not everyone is English skilled and secondly comma's can be very useful to underline or specify an author's meaning. Let you readers decide who and what they want to read please. Now related to the article. Personally I have had "business" wise sofar only experienced good Russians as customers, but I'm also surprised with the easy way some Russian "performers" on Bangla get their "artistic" Visa entry to dance around there. That seems to be not only a big moneymaker for the dancers, but most likely, also for some "middleman"

Posted by PhuketGreed on March 15, 2013 12:12

Editor Comment:

Who said it was a valid reason to refuse a comment?

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"Editor, the use, or abuse, off comma's should not be a valid reason to refuse a comment. At first not everyone is English skilled and secondly comma's can be very useful.."

It's the Grocer's apostrophes I'm worried about.....

Posted by stu on March 15, 2013 13:09

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Russians prostitutes have been around in Patong for many years now. I can remember my neighbor telling me about them, and he even pointed out a few on their way to "work". On walking street , Pattaya, there are "white" girls dancing undressed in glass fronted windows, there for all to see. I would dearly love to know how this is allowed when a simple restaurant owner is not even allowed to pick up a check off the table ?

Posted by Elizabeth on March 15, 2013 14:38

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Good evening ladies and gentlemen we are commencing our descent into Little Moscow, err sorry I mean Phuket.

Posted by Happy Farang on March 15, 2013 14:49

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LEt's put the couple in a one-by-one metre cage and placed on the beach rain or shine for photo ops for the full year. I'll pay to take a picture of that.

Posted by May on March 15, 2013 14:56

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Phuket is marketed as little Russia there already.

Posted by stuart on March 15, 2013 14:59

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macaques are native to Phuket

Posted by Michael on March 15, 2013 19:53

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Interesting that I now read so many comments, telegraph, mail, phuketwan - many people are obviously bitter, unhappy and sad. Russians, jet skis etc etc are part of everyday life - just live your life and be as happy as possible every day. I retired to Phuket 7 years ago and have never had a bad day - despite not using a tuk tuk, jet ski or getting married - just a lot of hangovers !

Posted by john on March 16, 2013 04:33

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every other day there's a russian couple coming round collecting plastic bottles from the bins on my estate.. is this legal or can i report them.. shameful!

Posted by poppop on March 16, 2013 06:05

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Poppop , you made me laugh, and then I thought, is he being serious ??????????

Posted by Elizabeth on March 16, 2013 19:07


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