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Justice minister discusses Bout, Yaroshenko with US counterpart

February 10, 2012, 4:02 UTC+3

Konovalov said requests to return Bout and Yaroshenko to Russia were being made through diplomatic channels

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WASHINGTON, February 10 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov met U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday to discuss exterritorial use of US laws against Russian citizens and reiterated his proposal to sign bilateral agreements on extradition and repatriation of convicted people.

Russia is specifically irritated by a growing number of US-orchestrated arrests of suspected Russian nationals abroad and their extradition to the United States. Konovalov told Tass Russia views it as “abduction of people in various parts of the globe, their unlawful transition to the hands of the US justice.”

He was referring to the cases of businessman Viktor Bout, who was airlifted from Bangkok and convicted for illegal weapons trade, and pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was literally kidnapped in Liberia, charged with drug-pushing and sentenced to 20 years.

Konovalov said requests to return Bout and Yaroshenko to Russia were being made through diplomatic channels.

“Unfortunately, there are no bilateral agreements either on extradition or handover of convicted persons,” the minister said and recalled he had suggested to Holder to sign such agreements two years ago.

“We have to honestly admit that so far there is dead response from the US side to our proposals, but we hope we shall convince them and at least we shall do everything possible for that,” the minister said.

“We do not doubt the intention of the United States to effectively fight crime, but the fight shall be based on laws and evidence and the very aims of the fight shall be achieved in a lawful way,” Konovalov said.

In the fight against criminal and terrorist threats “countries shall agree on how they cooperate and trust each other and which clear mechanisms they will use so that there is no need to abduct people or bomb criminals on the territories of other sovereign states,” the minister said.

Asked how the US Attorney General responded, Konovalov said “Holder delicately kept silent although he nodded and said we understand we have to look for the ways.”

Although new global challenges and threats are likely to mount “we have no right to reduce it to an absurdity and to a war of everyone against everyone,” the minister said.

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