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Russian pilot Yaroshenko jailed in US denied parcel with Soviet films and books

April 09, 2014, 22:12 UTC+3 NEW YORK
The administration of prison explained the denial by the fact that the inmates were not allowed to watch videos other than those permitted by the authorities
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NEW YORK, April 09. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who has been sentenced to a long prison term in the United States, has been denied a parcel with Soviet films and books from Russia, his American lawyer Alexei Tarasov told ITAR-TASS on Wednesday, April 9.

“The administration of Fort Dix Prison in New Jersey, where the Russian citizen is being held, explained the denial by the fact that the inmates were not allowed to watch videos other than those permitted by the authorities and to receive parcels with video cassettes and CDs,” Tarasov said.

“The parcel sent to Konstantin Yaroshenko by one of the Moscow publishing houses contains books in Russian, mainly by Russian and Soviet classics. The Russian Consulate General in New York has been engaged to solve the issue,” the lawyer said.

Tarasov is temporarily keeping the books, and if the Consulate General succeeds in reaching an agreement with the prison administration, he will send them to the diplomats who will then take them to Yaroshenko.

“We were told that Konstantin Yaroshenko is not registered in prison as a recipient of parcels from abroad with information in a foreign language. This was a very strange explanation that looked like a bad excuse,” Taravo said.

Yaroshenko speaks no English. The library of America’s largest prison, who he is serving his term, has only 15 books in Russian. He has read them over several times.

Last week, U.S. Minister-Counsellor Howard Solomon was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry to hear a protest over the Yaroshenko situation.

The Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and the rule of law Konstantin Dolgov, who presented the protest, stressed that “the conditions in the prison where our fellow citizen is held remain a matter of serious concern to us”.

“We have received Yaroshenko’s letter addressed to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, which indicates that the Russian citizen is not getting proper medical care in connection with the serious ailments he had acquired as a result of tortures during the arrest in Liberia and the treatment in American penitentiary institutions which does not correspond to international standards,” the protest said.

Yaroshenko’s situation has been exacerbated by psychological pressure from the prison administration and U.S. Justice Department officials and by delays in providing Russia with copies of the documents on the results of his medical examination. They also denied him a visit by qualified Russian doctors.

“It is unacceptable that our fellow citizen is not given the mail and correspondence from his relatives and family. As he wrote in his letter, ‘nothing (be it medicines, clothes, food, or anything else) is allowed from the outside’. Yaroshenko notes constant pressure from the prison administration: ‘there is conspicuous citizenship, ethnic and religious discrimination against me here’. There is hardly another way to describe these actions than sophisticated abuse. We can’t understand what Washington is trying to achieve by grossly violating international human rights standards, and norms of ethics, morals and humanism,” the ministry said.

It urged the American authorities to “stop the lawlessness against Yaroshenko” and expressed hope that “as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly promised to the foreign minister of Russia, necessary measures will be taken after all to rectify the situation”.

“We will continue to use all available political, diplomatic and legal methods, including the Convention of the Council of Europe of 1983 on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, in order to ensure the return home of the Russian citizen who has fallen victim to an act of outrage,” the ministry said.

Yaroshenko’s condition remains precarious, but the U.S. authorities continue to deny him medical care, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and the rule of law Konstantin Dolgov said.

“There has been no improvement and we have not yet seen the results of his examination. They [U.S. authorities] say that this is a paid service even though the Russian citizen’ lawyer has acquired all the necessary permits,” he said.

Dolgov said Yaroshenko had been denied surgery despite American doctors’ recommendations. “The prison administration denies [it] and does not let Russian doctors in. The unenforceable conditions they have come up with remain,” the diplomat said.

“The situation is extremely bad. We have raised this issue with the American authorities and highlighted it,” Dolgov said, adding that he would continue monitoring the situation.

The American authorities’ treatment of Yaroshenko can only be regarded as “disrespectful and inhuman”, Dolgov said earlier this month.

“It was only under the strong pressure from Russia that the prison administration authorised in February the medical examination of our compatriot by their staff doctors but categorically refused to allow qualified medics from Moscow to examine him and hold a joint council in order to prescribe the necessary course of treatment,” Dolgov said.

“In reply to our request to give us the results of the examination and the patient record, we heard excuses that this could not be done without Yaroshenko’s written consent, which they did not have. When it turned out that he had signed such consent, the Consulate General of Russia in New York was told that it would take three weeks to consider the request but no guarantee and that the ‘service’ itself was provided for a fee,” Dolgov said.

“Now, as we have learnt from his lawyer, the prison authorities have denied Yaroshenko the surgery recommended to him by the American doctors,” he added.

Yaroshenko recently had a severe bout of an infection and viral disease, during which he felt a sharp pain in the heart, which has been recurring over and over again since then. His requests for medical help were ignored by the prison administration.

In September 2011, a U.S court sentenced Yaroshenko to 20 years in prison for having been allegedly involved in a criminal ring organised for smuggling a large shipment of cocaine. He was detained by the U.S. authorities in Liberia and then taken to the United States. Moscow believes that these charges are doubtful.

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