Moscow demands medical treatment for Russian pilot held in US prison

Konstantin Yaroshenko ©
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has expressed concern over reports of deteriorating health of Konstantin Yaroshenko, serving 20 years in a US prison, and demanded the authorities take steps so that the Russian citizen receives proper medical treatment.

We have addressed the US Embassy in Moscow in connection with the news Yaroshenko’s state of health has deteriorated in Fort Dix prison in the United States. We emphasized that the fact that the prison administration was preventing medical tests for Yaroshenko was unacceptable,” the Foreign Ministry’s representative for Human Rights, Konstantin Dolgov tweeted on Thursday.

The diplomat noted the urgency of the problem and said that the Russian side asked the US Department of State to interfere with the prison administration.

We will continue to press for medical tests and complex treatment,” Dolgov wrote.

READ MORE: Russian pilot Yaroshenko appeals US refusal to hold retrial

In 2011, professional aircraft pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a US court for allegedly participating in a conspiracy to smuggle drugs to the United States. He was initially arrested in Liberia following a sting operation and handed over to the US, despite protests from Russia and violations of the diplomatic code.

Yaroshenko pleaded not guilty at the process and continues to insist on his innocence, saying that his poor command of English prevented him from understanding the nature of suggestions he was getting from undercover DEA agents.

The pilot’s relatives had earlier suggested that the case could be an attempt by US authorities to extract some evidence against Viktor Bout - another Russian citizen illegally extradited to the US and sentenced as a result of yet another sting operation.

The Russian side has repeatedly called Yaroshenko’s processing unjust and biased, as well as a violation of the Council of Europe’s 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. It is also considered one of the examples of a biased approach that the United States’ law enforcement agencies and courts system are taking when dealing with Russian citizens.

In 2013 and 2014, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a warning to all citizens advising them to refrain from visiting the United States or countries that have extradition agreements with it if they had “well-founded suspicions that US law enforcement have any sort of claims against them.”

READ MORE: Russia warns citizens against visiting countries that extradite to the US

Russian diplomats went on to explain that the US court process involving Russian citizens who were “practically abducted” demonstrates an inclination towards conviction, even though they are based on dubious evidence.