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4 Apr, 2023 16:37

Russian governor’s son dodges US extradition

Artyom Uss has revealed he is back in Russia after escaping Italian custody
Russian governor’s son dodges US extradition

A week after he disappeared in Italy, Artyom Uss has resurfaced back in Russia, telling the news agency RIA on Tuesday that he fled from “biased” courts to avoid getting extradited to the US.

“I am in Russia!” Uss told the agency, thanking “strong and reliable” people who helped him over the past several days, which he described as “especially dramatic.” 

The son of Krasnoyarsk Region governor Aleksandr Uss was arrested last October at Milan’s Malpensa airport, as he was traveling to Türkiye. The US had issued a warrant for him and five other Russians, accusing them of evading sanctions. 

Russia responded by issuing its own warrant for Uss, accusing him of money-laundering, and demanding his extradition. After several weeks in jail, Uss was placed under house arrest, pending a court decision. On March 21, an appeals court in Milan approved his extradition to the US. Within two days, Uss had disappeared – breaking the monitoring bracelet and fleeing ahead of Italian police pursuit. 

“The Italian court, on whose impartiality I initially counted, has demonstrated its clear political bias,” Uss told RIA, adding that the Italians “bent under pressure from US authorities.”

Uss did not offer any details of his escape. According to Italian media outlets, the operation involved a group of six to seven people and at least four cars. While he was not happy about using “non-standard means” of coming home, Uss said that, under the circumstances – since the West “plays without rules” – against Russian citizens, he considers it a win.

Federal prosecutors in New York allege that Uss and others had bought US military technology on behalf of sanctioned Russian entities, and smuggled Venezuelan oil – also sanctioned – to customers in Russia and China. 

Governor Uss has said the charges against his son were politically motivated. The lawyers for Artyom Uss have suggested the US was trying to obtain a hostage they could later swap for Americans imprisoned in Russia – such as the convicted spy Paul Whelan.