Voices from Russia

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Russia Plans To Bring Bout and Yaroshenko Home


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

Olga Sobolevskaya

Voice of Russia World Service



Saturday, 30 June 2012

Could Viktor Bout Be Coming Home Soon?


Lawyers for Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who received a 25-year prison sentence in the USA, are set to appeal his verdict. The RF Ministry of Justice plans to submit an extradition request in a bid to return Bout home. However, Bout wants to come back home acquitted of all charges and plans to appeal his sentence. If he fails, his defence lawyers plan to file a mercy plea, whilst extradition would be their last option.

Bout’s attorney Viktor Burobin said that the lawyers would be working in three main directions, saying, “Firstly, we’ll appeal his verdict twice, in a higher court and then in the US Supreme Court. We believe that Viktor’s innocent. We’ll file his appeals in accordance with US laws. We’ve also contacted the US Justice Department’s Office of the Pardon Attorney and we hope that the US President will pardon Bout on the principle of reciprocity. In 2000, US citizen Edmond Pope was sentenced to 20 years in prison for espionage in Russia. The trial took place on 6 December, but on 14 December, President Vladimir Putin pardoned Pope and allowed him to go back to the US. We want to use this precedent. The final option, which we’ve discussed with the Russian Foreign and Justice Ministries is extradition, which we believe would be the last option. We want to prove Bout’s innocence”.

Earlier, Viktor’s wife Alla said that the US Justice Department stated that Washington was prepared to consider an extradition application if Russia submits one in accordance with the 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. She said, “The Ministry of Justice asked me to prepare a number of documents to begin the extradition process. I understand that it’ll take a long time, and, now, we’re awaiting a response from the US Justice Department”. Bout is now in a medium-security federal prison in Marion IL. According to his wife, “Russian diplomats will soon visit him, but the USA is doing everything it can to hamper the visit. It’s difficult to get to the place, and there’s nowhere to stay. Viktor’s detention conditions leave much to be desired. He’s being held in solitary confinement and is only entitled to make two ten-minute phone calls a week to his family or a lawyer. He also has the right to receive 100 pages of printed materials a month. Maybe, later, Viktor will be allowed to use the prison library”.

On 5 April, Viktor Bout, who had a cargo shipping business, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy for plotting to sell weapons to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Three US agents posing as FARC militants set him up, claiming that they wanted to buy weapons from him had.

29 June 2012

Lada Korotun

Voice of Russia World Service


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