A bank robbery suspect in Limassol fears for his life following his arrest, saying he is worried that the Russian ‘Vory v Zakone’ mafia is well connected on the island including inside the prison.
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Charalambos Kalogerides, aged 33, was arrested in Larnaca on Sunday in connection with a bank robbery at the Ayios Athanasios Co-op bank in Limassol back in March.
Kalogerides was wanted by police following the arrest last month of 38-year-old drug lord Elias Mouzos, who was arrested days after shooting at a police officer. But authorities clarified previously that the 33-year-old was not wanted in connection with the shooting of a police officer.
It is believed that Leonides was clipped by Russian mob operatives who came to Cyprus to put things in order
The arrest of Kalogerides, along with five foreign nationals – four women and one man, took place inside a residence in Larnaca's Turkish Cypriot borough, which was under close surveillance by police. Swat team officers had surrounded the area and ended up making the arrest on the balcony of the house.
Russian mafia wars
The residence belonged to the mother of Ernest Leonides, who was murdered in Limassol back in February in what some believe might have been a hit linked to the Russian mafia.
Some media sources suggested Kalogerides and Leonides were cousins.
According to daily Politis, Kalogerides and another wanted man, Haris Sarides who is considered dangerous by police, had tried to split from a gang that was under the control of Moscow, with members coming from former Soviet states.
It is believed that Leonides was clipped for the same reason by Russian mob operatives who came to Cyprus to put things in order.
Kalogerides, who was remanded on Monday for eight days, appears to have admitted at least one robbery while police investigators believe he could be connected to at least two more.
Kalogerides fears for his life
But it is not clear whether he will talk to authorities, citing fears for his own life even in prison. In court, the hearing on Monday took place in a closed session.
Kalogerides is terrified according to media sources of the Vory v Zakone, a criminal subculture with exclusive membership, whose members punish anyone who breaks their strict code.
Cyprus police have been mounting efforts to combat criminal activity and organised crime, following public criticism that cops were not doing enough proactively.
The latest campaign in Limassol and other towns comes after Mouzos began cooperating with authorities.
Police say they want to put a squeeze on organised crime by putting pressure on known criminals and other criminal elements in what appears to be a sweep operation for the long haul.