MOSCOW, Aug. 24 (JTA) — Israel and Russia have signed an agreement to broaden law enforcement cooperation. The accord was signed last week during Israeli Public Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani’s visit here. Kahalani called the accord “historic.” Until 1993, Russian and Israeli police and intelligence agencies had no contacts. The accord deals with criminal investigations, the prevention of terrorism and security measures on flights between the two countries. Russian Interior Ministry representatives are expected to visit Israel soon to coordinate cooperation. An Israeli police official has been based in Moscow since 1994 to work with law-enforcement agencies. The agreement follows an Israeli-Russian accord on combating crime signed when Russian Interior Minster Anatoly Kulikov visited Israel in May. Kahalani also discussed with Russian officials the case of Zvi Ben-Ari, a Russian immigrant to Israel who is also known in Russia as Gregory Lerner. Lerner is suspected of bank fraud and involvement in organized crime killings in Russia. He was arrested by Israeli police in June, but no charges have yet been brought against him. Russian police suspect him of misappropriating $85 million from five Russian banks and ordering the murder of the bankers when they demanded the return of their money. Several Russian newspapers have accused Moscow of not helping Israel in Lerner’s case. But on the eve of Kahalani’s visit Russian officials, for the first time, promised Israel “full cooperation” in the case.
Russia, Israel sign accord on joint anti-crime efforts