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Russian pilot Yaroshenko suspected of staging protest in US jail, lawyer says

February 12, 9:58 UTC+3 NEW YORK

According to the lawyer Alexei Tarasov, after a change of the administration in this penitentiary facility the inmates refused to eat in the canteen

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NEW YORK, February 12. /TASS/. Administration of the Danbury prison in Connecticut, where Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko is serving his 20-year sentence, suspects him of being linked to masterminding a protest among inmates, his lawyer Alexei Tarasov told TASS, calling the claims unfounded.

According to the lawyer, after a change of the administration in this penitentiary facility the inmates refused to eat in the canteen. This protest lasted at least several days, but the reasons for it are not yet clear.

"Yaroshenko is suspected as being one of organizers of this protest," the lawyer said. The reason is that from the very beginning Yaroshenko did not go to the prison canteen, and he preferred to buy food in a prison shop because of intestinal issues.

The Russian was questioned over his alleged connection with the protest, but neither his lawyer nor the consul, nor the interpreter were present during the interrogation. According to the lawyer, Yaroshenko explained that he could not eat in the canteen and did not speak English and talked to no one in the prison. "He neither has friends nor mates, he is not linked to any gangs or gangster groups."

So far, no charges have been pressed against Yaroshenko over the protest. However, in case criminal charges are slapped on him, the Russian’s sentence could be extended, the lawyer explained.

"The claims that [Yaroshenko] is somehow linked to this protest are absolutely unfounded," the lawyer stressed. "He does not visit the canteen due to medical reasons. And he said this during the interrogation."

In view of these events, Yaroshenko asked Russian diplomats in the United States to help transfer him to another jail. He may be sent to the Allenwood high-security prison in Pennsylvania, where the Russian will have access to medical assistance which he needs.

Yaroshenko case

Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia in May 2010, and was later clandestinely transferred to the United States. In September 2011, he was found guilty of conspiring to smuggle a major cocaine shipment into the US, and sentenced to 20 years behind bars. However, Yaroshenko pleaded not guilty, saying that his arrest was a setup and the case was fabricated.

The Russian was first sent to the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution, but in mid-June, 2018, he was first transferred to a transit prison in Brooklyn, New York, and then to the Danbury prison, which holds more than 1,400 inmates.

Russian officials and the pilot’s family have on numerous occasions requested that Washington extradite him to Russia.

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