3 February 1992
Article in "The National Law Journal" on international kidnapping case

The National Law Journal

It's Who You Know

Rita Henley Jensen

HIGH-LEVEL connections.

That's what a 23-year-old Russian associate at Philadelphia's Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen was able to tap when called upon to help free an Australian couple kidnapped on Jan. 8 in Moscow by disgruntled business associates.

After American relatives of the now-free couple received ransom calls demanding $ 1.6 million, they turned to Jerome J. Shestack, a Wolf Block international specialist and founder of the Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights.

Mr. Shestack had just the right associate to help out -- Dimitri O. Afanasiev, a 1989 graduate of the University of Leningrad's law school. Mr. Afanasiev telephoned an unnamed former colleague, now in a high position in the Russian foreign ministry who then found the right person in the new Russian police agency to push for a prompt investigation.

"It was important to find the right person in the agency," Mr. Afanasiev says, "rather than let pieces of paper float around." His familiarity with both countries permitted him operation between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and its Russian equivalent. Also, the law firm's research into the kidnap victims' Moscow business contacts, Mr. Afanasiev says, helped lead the Russian authorities to the kidnappers within a week.

Mr. Shestak says the firm waived fees for his and Mr. Afanasiev's 50-plus hours of work.