In St. Petersburg, a lawyer of a Chinese organized crime group was convicted of extortion

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In St. Petersburg, a lawyer of a Chinese organized crime group was convicted of extortion
In St. Petersburg, a lawyer of a Chinese organized crime group was convicted of extortion
7 June, 17:32Photo: Пресс-служба судов Петербурга
A court in St. Petersburg has sentenced Chinese-born lawyer Wang Hui, who was found guilty of extortion. The case has become a vivid illustration of the Chinese trend: in recent years, the diaspora from the PRC in the northern capital has become an increasingly significant phenomenon.

Alexander Dybin

According to the joint press service of the courts of St. Petersburg, Wang Hui was found guilty under paragraph b of part 3 of Article 163 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Extortion”). According to investigators, in 2020, a man gathered an organized criminal group, consisting of natives of China. The group was engaged in kidnappings, robberies and extortion. The reason for initiating the case was a showdown between the citizens of China, who did not divide the tourists. The victim organized a vacation for a group of compatriots, but took them to cheaper shops and cafes, which did not please the convict and his partners.

“The accomplices, on October 19, 2020, under a fraudulent pretext, invited the victim to a meeting, attacked him, forcibly put him in a car and beat him,” the court reported, “they took away the Hals jacket from the victim, worth 23,000 rubles, in the pockets of which were 80,000 rubles and a mobile phone "iPhone X". The man was beaten with a baseball bat”.

The beaten man was able to call his friends to the place of dismantling, but they were also beaten.

“Participants of the organized criminal group demanded 100,000 Chinese yuan (which is 1,163,980 rubles at the rate of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation), - the court clarified, - further, they brought all three victims to the Heavenly Food City restaurant, where they held them until the arrival of police officers".

At some point, the extortion victim was able to escape and call the police.

Convicted Wang Hui had the status of a lawyer and worked at the Anatoly Sobchak Baltic Bar Association. According to investigators, his role was to support the demands for the transfer of 100,000 yuan. During the trial, Wang admitted his guilt and repented. A pre-trial cooperation agreement was concluded with him. All members of the gang are students of St. Petersburg universities, aged 19 to 26 years.

The court gave Wang a very lenient sentence - 7 years probation with a 5-year probationary period. According to the For Honest Business service, Wang Hui is not only a lawyer, but also an entrepreneur. He is listed as a co-founder in two companies: "TONGFEN" (restaurant business) and "VANSBIOTEKH" (medicine trade).

According to Polina Rysakova, director of the Chinese Tourism Research Laboratory, Wang Hui's case is the loudest, but not the only one.

“The main problem of the Chinese diaspora is its closeness and attempts to solve many problems within itself without involving the police, or with the involvement of the authorities on some corrupt grounds,” the expert says. - We see the general style of offenses: the idea that, despite the fact that the incident takes place in Russia, it is perceived as a purely Chinese showdown. This case became known because the conflict was caught on camera and the victims made it public, although there were attempts to hide the conflict. There were many such situations: outbreaks, squabbles. They have always been and have always been solved in a closed manner. Stealing a person, beating with a bat, they can go to jail for this, but they perceive it as an internal issue outside the legal framework. You can just take a person away, and no one thinks that something could be behind it. The authorities are aware, they know. There is monitoring and action is being taken. This is a high-profile incident, and the fact that it went to court also speaks of the attention to the topic and the wariness that the diaspora is becoming one of the players, although the pandemic has limited the prospects”.

It should be noted that Chinese tourism in St. Petersburg reached its peak in the pre-pandemic years - 2018-2019. Then the crowds of Chinese tourists in the parks, museums and palaces of the Northern capital began to be spoken about more as a problem than exotic. Tourists complained at the queue, and museum administrations that the throughput of the palaces could not withstand such an influx. At the same time, the argument that tourists are money did not work. Around the tourist flow from China, the diaspora has built its own closed infrastructure. Own hotels, cafes and restaurants, souvenir shops, transport, guides, etc. Tourists from China simply did not get into Russian travel agencies, Russian restaurateurs and hoteliers. They talked about unfair competition, since legal guides and carriers must fulfill a lot of conditions, but those who served the Chinese do not.

According to Polina Rysakova, the tourist flow dropped sharply with the onset of the pandemic and, interestingly, the Chinese diaspora in St. Petersburg abruptly curtailed business, partly began to reorient it towards the Russians. Some people left Russia altogether. Before COVID-19, the size of the diaspora was estimated at 10-13 thousand people, now the expert finds it difficult to give an exact figure.

“Many restaurants and shops have closed, the economic opportunities for the diaspora are shrinking, especially in terms of serving compatriots. Yes, there are more projects. For example, the port in Ust-Luga, but this is probably the only living project that is connected with the Chinese economy, - says Polina Rysakova. - Everyone else is in a difficult position. The Chinese tourism industry was closed in on itself, and therefore Russian business did not suffer much. Some hotels, landlords. But most of the legal business did not work with this segment. They have suffered more from the cessation of tourist flow from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Although its size was up to a quarter of the Chinese, it only worked in white. Now we see that the business run by the diaspora is shifting from compatriots to Russians. There are more legal points connected with China, restaurants that are oriented towards Russians. They need to diversify their business."

At the same time, the expert sees no prospects for restoring the tourist flow in the previous volume. The pandemic is passing, but both China and Russia have their own circumstances that do not allow the exchange of tourists to be launched.

“There will definitely be nothing until the fall of 2022, since a party congress has been scheduled in China for this time, where the leadership will be re-elected. In addition, the Chinese Migration Service has imposed restrictions on the issuance of passports. They are issued only for a trip to study, business and scientific contacts. Tourism is not included in the list of reasons why you can leave the country. Until the fall of 2022, this will not change, says Polina Rysakova. - There are circumstances in Russia, who will fly to us, what planes, how much will it cost? If some tourists from China appear, then only from the spring of 2023. and these will be small groups that will travel for a very expensive price”.

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