‘US hunts for Russians’: Moscow warns citizens traveling abroad

Reuters/Jenevieve Robbins
Russia has urged its citizens to weigh all the risks before traveling abroad, warning that the US is on a global “hunt” for Russian nationals, according to the latest statement published by the Foreign Ministry.

Russian citizens abroad face a very “real” threat of being detained or arrested by US law enforcement and special services, especially when traveling to countries that have extradition treaties with Washington, the ministry said on itswebsite.

There have been over a dozen cases demonstrating just that, the statement added. “The American authorities continue the unacceptable practice of ‘hunting’ for Russians all over the world, ignoring the norms of international laws and twisting the arms of other states.”

READ MORE: Investigators launch criminal case against US agents over pilot kidnapping, torture

American forces have in effect kidnapped Russians from other countries, the statement said, citing the case of Roman Seleznyov, who was abducted by American agents in the Maldives, and then forcibly transported to the US in July 2014. He is still being held in custody, awaiting trial.

“By believing that it is allowed to do all it wants, Washington goes as far as kidnapping our citizens,” the ministry said.

Those who get detained by US services face prejudicial justice, including threats demanding confessions, despite lack of any evidence. Even if the American authorities fail to secure a confession, the detainees are slapped with huge prison terms, the ministry said.

READ MORE: Moscow rips into ‘vicious practice’ of extraditing Russian nationals to US

Examples of such cases include Viktor Bout and Konstantin Yaroshenko.

READ MORE: Russia’s Foreign Ministry urges US ‘to stop harassing kidnapped Russian MP’s son’

In the most recent development, a New York court has refused to hold a retrial in the case of Russia pilot Yaroshenko, who was given a 20-year sentence in 2011 for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to smuggle drugs to the US. He was arrested in Liberia following a sting operation and handed over to the US, despite protests from Russia and violations of the diplomatic code.

Meanwhile, back in 2012, the US Justice Department declined Russia’s request to repatriate businessman Viktor Bout, who is currently serving a 25-year prison term.

American authorities are accused of violating procedures and using bribery to strong-arm Thailand into surrendering Bout.

During the trial, the prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of undercover agents rather than actual material evidence, as both Bout and Yaroshenko pleaded not guilty in court.

READ MORE: US rejects Russia’s extradition request for jailed businessman Bout