Today, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) human rights envoy Konstantin Dolgov stated that Russia is seeking the return of pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko and businessman Viktor Bout, who are in American prisons. Viktor Bout, who owned a cargo shipping business, was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment this April, convicted of plotting against the USA, as he allegedly intended to sell weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Konstantin Yaroshenko was sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly plotting to smuggle cocaine to the USA. Both men plead their innocence. Dolgov found the sentences unfair, politically-motivated, and unwarranted, saying, “Both cases have politically-motivated aspects that we don’t like at all. The trials were conducted in violation of Bout’s and Yaroshenko’s rights, as Russia wasn’t officially briefed on Bout’s extradition from Thailand to the USA and on Yaroshenko’s arrest”.
Dolgov said that top officials are working on the matter, and Russia’s looking for any legal or political opportunity to bring the men home as soon as possible. Bout is set to appeal his verdict. Dolgov thought that the 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons ratified by Russia five years ago could help in this case, and Moscow expects the USA to launch the extradition mechanisms. On 4 July, the Ministry of Justice stated that it would submit an extradition request to return Bout home as soon as it receives a respective appeal from Viktor or his lawyers. Dolgov pointed up that the USA’s responsible for health and life of the two Russians, saying, “Yaroshenko was placed to an isolation block for no reason, where he had to sleep on a concrete floor. He also was denied medical help, even though he has serious health problems”.
A number of Russian appeals helped to improve Yaroshenko’s detention conditions. Bout is now in USP Marion, a medium-security prison in Marion IL, instead of the previously-planned Colorado Supermax (USP Florence ADX). However, the Americans still put him in a special block for especially-dangerous criminals, although his lawyers and the judge claimed that such harsh measures are unnecessary. Dolgov added that both problems would be resolved; that Moscow wants its citizens to receive appropriate treatment to have their rights respected.
5 July 2012
Voice of Russia World Service