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MOSCOW, February 28. /TASS/. Washington’s actions to secure return of Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko to Russia would be a significant step to improve bilateral relations, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told reporters on Tuesday.
"We proceed from the assumption that actions to tackle this major humanitarian issue, a decision in favor of securing Konstantin’s return to Russia, for example, as part of US efforts on the relevant European convention would be a significant step towards improving relations," he said.
"Apart from rescuing a person and changing his fate for the better, that would be a very important step politically," Ryabkov added.
Yaroshenko was convicted in the United States on September 7, 2017, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He pled not guilty describing his arrest as a provocation. All charges against him were trumped up, he stated.
The pilot had been brought to the United States from Liberia, where he was arrested on May 28, 2010. Agents of the US Drug Enforcement Administration operating under cover allegedly exposed Yaroshenko’s criminal intention to transport a large batch of cocaine. He is serving his prison term at the Fort Dix federal prison, New Jersey.