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Justice Ministry to press for Yaroshenko’s transfer to Russia if he requests so

April 22, 2014, 23:30 UTC+3 MOSCOW
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MOSCOW, April 22. /ITAR-TASS/. The Russian Justice Ministry will take efforts towards the transfer of pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who has been sentenced to a long prison term in the United States, to Russia if he makes such a request.

The ministry earlier initiated steps towards Yaroshenko’s transfer to Russia so that he could serve his sentence at home, following his relatives’ request. However, the U.S. authorities refused to cooperate.

According to the Justice Ministry’s letter of January 29, 2014, Yaroshenko “has the right to resubmit an appeal to the competent U.S. bodies requesting his transfer to Russia in two years after the refusal”. However, if he thinks that there have been significant changes in the conditions that influenced his decision, he may submit his appeal again before the end of the two-year period.

“The Ministry of Justice of Russia is ready to consider the issue of Yaroshenko’s transfer to Russia if it receives such a request from him or his representative or relatives,” the ministry said.

Yaroshenko told the Russian television channel LifeNews on Monday, April 21, that he would like to see stronger support from the Russian Justice Ministry and the Prosecutor General’s Office. “I have sent many appeals to them but for some reason they have not been heard,” he said.

“The Justice Ministry has received many appeals from Yaroshenko and his relatives and answered them within the time stipulated by law,” the ministry said.

Yaroshenko’s mother, Lyubov Yaroshenko, told ITAR-TASS on Tuesday, April 22, that she had “received the Interior Ministry’s assurances that despite the deteriorated relations with the United States over Ukraine, my son will not be left [in trouble]”.

She met with the Russian Foreign Ministry’s commissioner for human rights, democracy and the rule of law Konstantin Dolgov, on April 21, who assured her that the Russian ministry was taking all possible steps to get her son’s verdict revised.

Next Monday, April 28, an appeal will be filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, requesting that new proceedings be started following the acquisition of convincing evidence of Yaroshenko’s innocence provided by international drug dealer Chigbo Umeh, who was sentenced to 30 years in U.S. prison in the same case.

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

Yaroshenko’s condition remains precarious, but the U.S. authorities continue to deny him medical care, 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.

“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.

The Russian Foreign Ministry 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.

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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