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21 Feb, 2014 10:15

​Russian pilot in US prison with serious health problems but no medical aid - diplomats

A Russian pilot imprisoned in the US on questionable charges is receiving no medical treatment, despite suffering from pre-infarction angina. His lawyer said that a review of Konstantin Yaroshenko’s case will only become possible in August.

Russian diplomats have finally managed to have an in-depth conversation with pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, in the New Jersey prison where he is currently serving a 20-year term for alleged intent to smuggle drugs.

A delegation headed by Russia’s Consul General in New York visited Yaroshenko at Fort Dix, New Jersey, after making three official requests. Diplomats multiplied their efforts after the pilot’s lawyer reported the grave medical condition of his client, who is suffering from an infection and viral disease accompanied by sharp heart pains.

“It’s good that we could meet with him after three written requests to the authorities. We talked for two hours and we had no time limitations,” the Russian Consul General Igor Golubovsky said, as quoted by Interfax news agency.

“Judging simply from Konstantin Yaroshenko’s appearance, it was visible that he has suffered from a serious infection, which has exacerbated the chronic illness he already had. Thanks to concerted efforts, the administration of Fort Dix prison finally turned its attention to the numerous written and verbal requests from Russian diplomats to provide him with medical assistance,” reported Russia’s Vice Consul in New York, Egor Ivanov, who was part of the delegation that visited Yaroshenko in prison.

After numerous requests, Konstantin Yaroshenko finally had a medical examination, an ultrasound on Monday this week and a basic medical exam including an electrocardiogram on Tuesday, but the results were not provided to the prisoner, or the Russian consulate – despite a number of appeals. A Russian doctor from the NYC diplomatic mission was not allowed to inspect the pilot, with system regulations being cited as the reason.

Meanwhile, the prison administration continues to ignore Yaroshenko’s requests for medical help, saying there is no reason for concern. The superintendent of Yaroshenko’s cell block maintains the prisoner had not told him about the deterioration of his health. If the Russian pilot had managed to call his lawyer, he could tell him about his health problems, the official said.

Reportedly, the Russian pilot was simply too weak to get up from his cot to address the superintendent.

“Konstantin Yaroshenko has not been provided with comprehensive medical care so far. He only had a partial examination, but the results were not made available to him. He was only told that his condition did not worry the prison doctors,” the Consul General said, adding that that Yaroshenko is “in very grave psychological condition after the US authorities refused to extradite him to Russia.”

The Russian diplomat believes that the prison administration isn’t taking Yaroshenko’s condition seriously. “We will press for providing him with better conditions,” he added.

“Of course the medical exam that was conducted cannot be described as full and qualified. In this regard, we will continue working with the prison authorities to provide Konstantin Yaroshenko with appropriate medical assistance,” Vice Consul Egor Ivanov promised.

Yaroshenko’s lawyer, Aleksey Tarasov, said the defense will petition again for a rehearing of the case to take into consideration new facts that have emerged, but this won’t be possible until August.

Mr Tarasov has also revealed that during the Russian diplomats’ visit, the Fort Dix prison administration refrained from any contact with the delegation. He also believes that the diplomats’ visit was a great tonic for his client, giving Yaroshenko the spirit and will to fight on.

Konstantin Yaroshenko was arrested in a sting operation conducted by US officials in Liberia in 2010 for allegedly smuggling a large shipment of cocaine to the US. Later he was extradited to the US, where in September 2011, a US court sentenced him to 20 years in prison. He became the first Russian to be sentenced for intent to commit a crime in a third country. Before being extradited to the US, he had never set foot on American soil, and had no criminal record anywhere in the world.

Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, said the refusal of a New York court to review the guilty verdict was “inhuman, illogical and unacceptable.”

So far the US has failed to present any facts that make Yaroshenko’s guilty verdict viable. After Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN) demanded additional information on the case, doubting the legitimacy of the ruling, the US presented only “a brief memo” on the issue, said FSKN chief, Viktor Ivanov.

Apart from the case of Konstantin Yaroshenko, Russia’s Foreign Ministry is also closely monitoring the case of Viktor Bout, another Russian citizen brought to the US and sentenced to a long prison term.