Russian jailed in Bali for smuggling drugged orangutan

Russian tourist Andrei Zhestkov, right, stands near a police officer in this March 25, 2019 photo after he was arrested after attempting to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of Indonesia. (AFP)
Updated 11 July 2019

Russian jailed in Bali for smuggling drugged orangutan

  • Judges also ordered Andrei Zhestkov to pay a 10-million rupiah fine or serve two additional months in prison
  • Orangutans are a critically endangered species, with only about 100,000 remaining worldwide

DENPASAR, Indonesia: A Russian tourist who attempted to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of Indonesia in his suitcase was sentenced to a year in prison Thursday after claiming that he wanted to keep the animal as a pet.
Judges also ordered Andrei Zhestkov to pay a 10-million rupiah ($700) fine or serve two additional months in prison.
The 28-year-old was detained at Bali’s Denpasar airport in March while passing through a security screening before his flight to Russia.
Suspicious officers stopped him and opened his luggage to find a two-year-old male orangutan sleeping inside a rattan basket.
Officials believed Zhestkov drugged the ape with allergy pills before putting it inside the basket which also contained baby formula and blankets.
Police also found two live geckos and five lizards inside the suitcase. Zhestkov told authorities that the protected species was gifted by his friend, another Russian tourist who bought the primate for $3,000 from a street market in Java.
He claimed his friend, who has since left Indonesia, convinced him he could bring home the orangutan as a pet.
Orangutans are a critically endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with only about 100,000 remaining worldwide.
Plantation workers and villagers in Indonesia often consider the apes pests and sometimes attack them, while poachers capture the animals to sell as pets. A string of fatal attacks on the apes has been blamed on farmers and hunters.
Four Indonesian men were arrested last year over the killing of an orangutan shot some 130 times with an air gun.


Trump says Baghdadi successor in US crosshairs

Updated 4 min 24 sec ago

Trump says Baghdadi successor in US crosshairs

  • The US president used his speech in New York to claim that Daesh’s leadership was running scared in the wake of Baghdadi’s death
  • Donald Trump: Thanks to American warriors, Al-Baghdadi is dead, his second in charge is dead, we have our eyes on number three

NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump placed the Daesh group’s new chief in the crosshairs Monday as he marked Veterans’ Day by celebrating the killing of the extremists’ former leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

While US presidents traditionally mark the day by laying a wreath at a vast military cemetery in Arlington, near Washington, Trump traveled to New York where he made an address ahead of the city’s annual parade of veterans.

Trump was widely criticized after announcing a full withdrawal of US troops from Syria last month, with opponents and even some allies saying it could allow Daesh to rebuild as well as leaving US-allied Kurdish fighters vulnerable to a Turkish invasion.

But the US president used his speech in New York to claim that Daesh’s leadership was running scared in the wake of Baghdadi’s death in a raid in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib on October 26.

“Just a few weeks ago, American special forces raided the Daesh compound and brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice,” he said.

“Thanks to American warriors, Al-Baghdadi is dead, his second in charge is dead, we have our eyes on number three.

“His reign of terror is over, and we have our enemies running very, very scared. Those who threaten our people don’t stand a chance against the righteous might of the American military.”

After the death of Baghdadi and Daesh’s main spokesman, Abu Hassan Al-MuHajjir, in a raid the following day, the organization named the little known Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi Al-Quraishi as its new leader.

Following the uproar over his announcement of a full troop withdrawal, Trump said that he would leave some troops in the region to protect valuable oil fields.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview at the weekend that US troop levels in northern Syria would probably stabilize at around 500.