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MOSCOW, November 17 (Itar-Tass) —— The State Duma is indignant at the sentence passed on pilots of an An-72 aircraft Vladimir Sadovnichy and Alexei Rudenko, condemning them to eight and a half year of the deprivation of freedom. The Duma demands that they be released from a prison in Tajikistan. The deputies adopted on Thursday the statement in defense of Russian citizen Vladimir Sadovnichy and Estonian citizen Alexei Rudenko.
The Duma regards the sentence passed on the pilots “unfounded and politically-motivated.” “This decision runs counter to the spirit of strategic partnership between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Tajikistan, which was harmed to suit dubious circumstantial considerations,” the statement says.
The Duma hopes that “the voice of reason will be heeded in Tajikistan and there will be prompt response to the Russian public’s disapproval of a rigorous sentence passed on pilots Vladimir Sadovnichy and Alexei Rudenko.” The sentence caused perplexity in Russia, the MPs noted.
“We demand that the pilots be immediately released and returned home,” leader of the LDPR Vladimir Zhirinovsky said, presenting the draft statement to the house. He said such a verdict cannot be understood as, in accordance with world practice, a pilot, in case of fuel shortage, needs no permission for landing in any country.
Pilots of the Rolkam air company Vladimir Sadovnichy and Alexei Rudenko were sentenced by the court in the Tajik city of Kurgan-Tyube to eight and a half years in a colony with a strict regime, being accused of illegally crossing the border and contraband. The pilots were arrested in Tajikistan in March. They pleaded not guilty and described the verdict as absurd.