Police Arrest Suspect in Rozhetskin Case

Latvian police have made their first arrest in connection with the disappearance of Russian-born American businessman Leonid Rozhetskin, Latvian court and police officials said Friday.

An unidentified male resident of Latvia was detained in the resort town of Jurmala, where Rozhetskin disappeared last month, police said at a news conference Friday, Latvian news agencies reported. They did not say when the suspect was detained.

Dailis Luks, head of Latvia's central criminal police department, confirmed the suspect's detention by telephone Friday. He refused to give additional details on the suspect or his detention.

On Friday, a court in Jurmala granted a request from the local police for an arrest warrant for the suspect, meaning that he can be held for up to two months, a court spokeswoman said.

The man's lawyer, Inese Luse, said her client was innocent, Interfax reported. She said the suspect might have known Rozhetskin.

Two men left his house at 2:30 a.m. on the day of his disappearance and caught a taxi to one of Riga's biggest gay bars, local Russian-language newspaper Telegraf has reported.

The court spokeswoman said she had been asked not to disclose the suspect's identity. Local police could not be reached for further comment.

Despite Friday's developments, police are still not saying definitively that Rozhetskin, 41, was killed. Police have not yet found a body, and they are still considering several theories for the disappearance, Luks said.

Rozhetskin, who made headlines in a long-running dispute over a blocking stake in mobile phone operator MegaFon, vanished from his $2 million villa in Jurmala, around 30 kilometers outside Riga on March 16. A criminal investigation was opened after his car was found abandoned near the house the next day.

At the same news conference, Aldis Lieljuksis, the head of Latvian state police, would not specify on what charges the suspect had been detained, Latvian news agency LETA reported.

Lieljuksis said he was now becoming more convinced that Rozhetskin was murdered. Given that Rozhetskin was a "very complicated character," Lieljuksis said, there were many motives for the possible crime.

Rozhetskin, a Harvard graduate, is married to former model Natalya Belova and has a 3-year-old son. He left Russia for the United States with his family in 1980 and returned in 1992 to set up a law firm. He later co-founded Renaissance Capital and served on the board of Norilsk Nickel.

Rozhetskin made headlines in 2003 after LV Finance, a company he headed at the time, was accused of going back on an agreement to sell a 25 percent stake in MegaFon to Bermuda-based investment fund IPOC. Alfa Group eventually bought the stake.

A three-judge private commercial tribunal in Zurich concluded in 2006 that IT and Communications Minister Leonid Reiman was IPOC's beneficial owner. Reiman has repeatedly denied any links to the company.

Rozhetskin has an ongoing legal case against Reiman running in New York, accusing the minister of extortion, making personal threats and abuse of office.