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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Abductors of Kukura Mull $6M Payoff

Negotiations with the kidnappers of LUKoil chief financial officer Sergei Kukura continued Thursday but were stymied by a lack of agreement on how to pay the $6 million ransom demand, Interfax reported.

Talks hammering out the details of transferring the money are being mediated by a negotiator picked by the kidnappers, Interfax said, citing an unidentified source close to the case. The source said the negotiator does not belong to a law enforcement agency.

LUKoil was demanding a guarantee from the kidnappers that Kukura, who is being held somewhere in the Moscow region, would be returned in good health, the source said.

Kukura was abducted by a group of armed men at a railroad crossing near Moscow on Thursday morning. Kukura's bodyguard and driver were given injections that knocked them out, and the attackers drove off in a car with police license plates, investigators say.

LUKoil said the kidnappers had asked for $6 million in small notes.

Russian newspapers reported Wednesday that LUKoil made contact with the kidnappers after receiving a videotape that confirmed they were holding Kukura.

Local media speculated Thursday that the ransom demand might be a trick to mislead investigators, saying the kidnappers were probably after Kukura's own money. The reports cited tax officials as saying Kukura is worth $50 million and has a monthly income of $1.8 million.

Kommersant reported that the kidnappers could force Kukura to sign a check or to transfer the money from his bank accounts to their account. Kukura's accounts were frozen a day after his abduction, the paper said.

The fact that the kidnappers demanded the ransom be paid in small notes indicated that they were not interested in the money, Gazeta reported. In $100 bills, $6 million would weigh about 60 kilograms, and in $20 bills the weight would be five times that.

Izvestia said the kidnappers were infuriated at the extensive coverage the case has received in the media and boosted the amount of the ransom. The paper did not say by how much.