«Jewish Observer»
November 2002
5763 Kislev

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Phantom of the "crystal night" wanders about Europe. Over sixty years past the Jewish pogroms in Vienna neo-Nazis again destroy hotels, restaurants and windows of shops marked with six-pointed stars. I came to the hotel after the first wave of sensation had already subsided and Prague newspapers had told the readers in more or less details about the incident. Hardly had I found myself in the hall then a guard's robust figure sprang up before me. His thoroughly combed to the back long hair was pinned and hung like a tail.

- Where is Mister from? - he asked suspiciously in bad Russian. I drummed on the camera. He got the hint, immediately assumed a dignified air and began pushing me out of the "Royal" muttering a student phrase "not allowed, not allowed". I had to obey and choose a place beyond the hotel in a nearby bar, opposite a cluster of shops and small restaurants with signboards in Arab. I needed no help of that "security" with his coquettish "tail". I already knew August 11 at 2 p.m. the "Royal" owner, Israel's citizen, inhabitant of Netania and head of a numerous clan 57- year- old Felix Abutbul had been killed on the hotel stairs. There were quite a few witnesses but, strange as it may seem, they either saw no details or asserted the killer was a woman in black clothes. That very day the Prague procurator's office insisted on the delay of the flight to Tel-Aviv. Agents of criminal police talked to everybody returning to Israel. The incident ended here and leadership of the local police had to sadly admit the killer had decided to stay in Czech Republic. As for the woman leaving "Royal" together with Felix Abutbul, this is a separate talk. After she had talked to the police she remained out of reach for journalists. Investigators did not conceal her testimony as it differed from others. She pointed not at a motorcyclist but cyclist, not at a woman, but a young man aged around 25 in black shirt, jeans and cap. Her testimony coincided with that of others only in the colour of a shooter's cap - black. On returning to the hotel the woman spent several days in complete solitude willing to see nobody. Even hotel-maids and those on duty on the floors were strictly instructed not to start a talk with her. Later the woman disappeared from Prague.

Actually speaking, I came to the hotel to namely learn about her. Who is she, the guest of "Royal" and Felix' companion?

I understand lady X. could have found herself in the crime scene purely by chance. This trite criminal 'settling of scores' would have been of no big interest but for the commentaries of Prague newspapers and position of some deputies of Czech parliament concerned about amass influx of former USSR citizens. Not going into the details of an Israeli's murder and having, seemingly, totally forgotten about him, the observers and politicians insisted on the sole reason to the crime. They tried to convince their compatriots a Russian - Ukrainian mafia was involved in the case having removed another competitor from the shadow market (gambling, drugs, prostitution) with its fabulous working capital. There appeared only one person to doubt this "patriotic version" - journalist Marek Varny from a popular capital newspaper "Prague news". He had weighty grounds for that - he was the first to understand: a ban for hotel porters and maids to communicate with lady X. did not mean they had no right to see and hear her, to memorize details and make own conclusions. The reporter even managed to meet with them and learn their impressions from Felix Abutbul's companion. It should be noted these impressions totally contradicted a craftily forced newspapers' tone. The maids were only mysteriously smiling when Varny was questioning them about lady X. occupations. "Oh, - they were saying, - the owner of "Royal" was mad after her abandoning her not for a single moment. She was fond of chrysanthemums, brilliants and would gamble on insane sums in casino. A dark-skinned beauty looked like an Arab woman, she was at times noticed together with people of the same Oriental type. Every morning her three-room apartment was adorned with bunches of flowers. Once the master presented her with a luxurious mink coat and said that was a gift from his Russian partners. By the way, about these Russians. Newspapers write nonsense about them. None of them threatened him; he got along with them quite well. If he had been really afraid of them he wouldn't have purchased a hotel and casino in Old Prague. While I was drinking up a big glass of dark "Staropramen" beer in the bar, a squat black BMW drove up to the "Royal". Well-dressed people came out and climbed the stairs talking in a low voice. A guard did not stop them. Russian criminal "kings" are said to adore black BMW. They seemed to be conducting their own investigation.

Back in Tel-Aviv I took to the archives to find out which of Russian mafia's bigwigs could be interested in removing Felix Abutbul. He is not comparable to any of 266 Russian-Ukrainian leaders of criminal groupings, 522 "crowned thieves" and 240 criminal authorities who have settled in Central Europe - in a word, to all those able to subdue Prague's shadow market. If these figures taken from official reports of Russian law enforcement agencies are complemented with the analogous data of Interpol you, involuntarily, begin thinking about certain criminal globalization leaving behind the process of economy's globalization.

Collapse of the Warsaw treaty and withdrawal of "friendly armies" left a huge free space mastered by another force that substituted the military - an assembly of international criminal leaders in Czech capital who signed a certain "Prague treaty". A new network not only copied the scheme of Warsaw treaty but also established its domination over a "Vietnamese - Chinese market" in one of a Prague central squares, as well as business of such newcomers as Felix Abutbul to declare them their vassals.

Who, then, killed an Israeli if he diligently paid quit-rent? Can this murder be related to usual cases of criminal account-settling?

Pursuant to the laws of a documentary genre, the author is not only to operate with facts but to constantly mark his presence in the material as well. I do this meaning my work in the archives in search of the continuation of this theme. In "Russian department" of Tel-Aviv's library I discovered two curious publications. Two months prior to Abutbul's murder in Prague American secret services began, according to the observer of "Washington Post", "a deep cleansing" of Arabs doing small business in the USA. FBI singled out over five hundred persons, owners of food, jewellery and goods shops scattered all over the country. Counter-intelligence received the first signals of these people funding Muslim terrorist organizations KHAMAS and "Hezbollah" back in 1995. Brothers Mohammed and Chauki Khamud were arrested in North Carolina. Smuggling cigarettes they transferred to "Hezbollah" USD seven and a half million. The sum was spent on explosives, night vision devices, mine-detectors to be subsequently delivered to Palestinian militants.

To be continued
"Vesti", Israel

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