Chechen ex-football club owner faces expulsion

Bulat Chagaev, the Chechen businessman charged with dishonest management at the bankrupt Neuchâtel football club he once owned, faces being expelled from Switzerland, according to media reports.

Chechen ex-football club owner faces expulsion
Bulat Chagaev. Photo: AFP/Fabrice Coffrini/File

Chagaev, who left a reported debt of 30 million francs with the Neuchâtel Xamax club,  is living in a villa in Saint-Sulpice in the canton of Vaud.

Last weekend, Pierre Aubert, the chief prosecutor of Neuchâtel  told the newspapers L’Express and L’Impartial that he did not need the presence of Chagaev to conclude his investigation into the Chechen’s role in Xamax’s bankruptcy.

Aubert added that it was unlikely that Chagaev, who was released on bail last May, would serve any prison time, given that he had already spent four months in custody.

Now, Vaud cabinet minister Philippe Leuba has written to Neuchâtel authorities to clarify  the situation.

Leuba suggested indirectly that the Vaud cantonal government was prepared to expel Chagaev, who no longer possesses a valid Swiss residency permit, Le Matin reported on Thursday.

The Vaud government wrote on Tuesday to Neuchâtel justice authoritorities “to assure ourselves that the presence of Mr. Chagaev is no longer necessary,” the newspaper reported him saying.

“And, if need be, to ensure the normal treatment of his file,” Leuba said.

“There will be no special treatment.”

Neuchâtel’s Aubert confirmed to Le Matin that if federal immigration authorities asked him if Chagaev’s presence in the country was necessary, “I would say, no.”

The prosecutor said it was just necessary to guarantee Chagaev’s safe passage for his trial, which is not expected to take place until 2014.

For his part, Chagaev, whose business visa has expired, has made various requests for a residency permit.

And his lawyer said he wanted to remain in Switzerland until the end of his legal procedure “to defend his tarnished honour”.

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Cafés and restaurants in most of French-speaking Switzerland to re-open on December 10th

Nearly four weeks after closing down, bars and restaurants in five of Switzerland’s six French-speaking regions will be back in business as of December 10th.

Cafés and restaurants in most of French-speaking Switzerland to re-open on December 10th
A waiter wearing a protective face mask poses in the nearly empty restaurant "Le Lyrique cafe brasserie" in Geneva. AFP

In a joint press release, Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel, Fribourg, and Jura announced on Wednesday that the decision to re-open restaurants and cafés “was made in a concerted manner and with a desire for harmonisation and clarity” among the neighbouring regions.

Of the French-speaking cantons, only Valais restaurants will remain shut, as the canton had extended its closures until December 13th.

Authorities noted that the decision to re-open was driven by the steadily declining coronavirus infection rates in the regions, which until the first week of November had been among the most impacted in Switzerland.

Cantonal officials said that the re-opening “will take place in a strict health framework. It will be mandatory to consume seated and provide contact details for tracing. There can only up to four people per table.”

Tables must be at least 1.5 metres apart and masks must be worn if customers are not seated.

Additionally, establishments must remain closed between 11 pm. and 6 am, in accordance with federal rules.

Authorities said they would monitor “for the possible effects of the re-opening on the pandemic. This means the decision can be revoked if the health situation requires it”.

In Vaud, electric heaters will be allowed outside the restaurants to encourage customers to eat outdoors.

READ MORE: IN NUMBERS: Reasons to be optimistic about the coronavirus situation in Switzerland 

Other measures will also be lifted

For instance, in Vaud museums will re-open on December 1st, and religious services will resume with a maximum of 30 people. They will have to wear masks and keep the 1.5-metre distance.

Also in Vaud, more relaxed measures will be put in place for the holidays: from December 18th to January 3rd, the limit for gatherings will be raised from five to 10 people.

However, participation in other public or private events will remain limited to five people.

In Geneva, the Council of State announced on Wednesday that museums, exhibition halls and libraries will be open from November 28th.

This new relaxation comes after hairdressers, beauticians and other wellness services resumed their activities on Saturday.

Until then, all non-essential businesses in Geneva had been shut down since the beginning of November to curb the canton’s alarmingly high contamination rate. 

You can see the situation in other Swiss cantons here.