Phuket

Imprisoned Russian pays B310k for damage to statue of Phuket abbot

PHUKET: The Russian tourist who damaged a statue of a revered Phuket abbot during a drunken spree last month has had relatives wire in 310,000 baht to pay for a new statue to be built.

Oleg Fomenko, 31, remains incarcerated at Phuket Prison following his arrest on October 24.

He faces charges for damaging a statue of revered historical abbot Luang Por Kongdet, who founded Wat Karon, and attempting to steal a lorry parked nearby.

Mr Oleg claimed he was drunk and could not control himself, and that he could not remember what happened on the night in question (story here).

Yesterday, the Russian Federation’s Deputy Honorary Consul for Phuket Santi Udomkiratak, fellow Russian consul officers and five members of the Russian expat community took part in a merit-making ceremony and passed on an apology from Mr Oleg.

The group also handed over 310,000 baht to the Wat Karon temple committee so that a new statue of the revered abbot could be built.

Karon Police Deputy Superintendent Sophon Borirak, local village chief Aroonsri Klunma, members of the temple committee and local devotees, many of whom demanded an apology for the incident (story here), were present for the ceremony.

“The statue suffered damage on some fingers and the body was cracked, so we are offering money for a new statue to be built,” Mr Santi explained.

“We understand how deeply Mr Oleg’s action has offended Buddhists in the area because the statue of Luang Por Kongdet is revered by Buddhists across the island.

“We apologize for what he did,” Mr Santi said.

Mr Oleg will remain in Phuket Prison until his case is heard in court.

“We don’t know what penalty will be handed down by the court, but the police will send a letter to the court to confirm that Mr Oleg has already paid for the damage done,” Mr Santi said.

“We will send a formal apology to the temple as soon as possible, and we will publish announcements advising Russian tourists not to behave like this when visiting any country,” he added.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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