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ROSTOV-ON-DON, July 7. /TASS/. Viktoria Yaroshenko, the wife of Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who has been sentenced to 20 years in prison in the United States, hopes that her husband will return home after the upcoming meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump.
On Friday, Putin and Trump are expected to hold their first bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg. Ahead of the meeting, Yaroshenko and his wife wrote a letter to Putin asking him to raise the pilot’s issue, however, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he did not know if the two presidents would discuss Yaroshenko’s future. At the same time, he said that the Russian president had been informed about the pilot’s letter.
"You know, from the very beginning, I pinned great hopes on this particular meeting, because relations between our countries are beginning to be rebuilt," Viktoria Yaroshenko told TASS. "Maybe this time it will be a new diplomatic start, we very much hope that Konstantin will have a chance to return home to us," she added.
According to earlier reports, in a letter to Trump, Yaroshenko asked the US President to allow him to return to his homeland. The pilot’s letter was forwarded to the White House through the Russian embassy in Washington on July 4. Viktoria Yaroshenko said that the letter was her husband’s last hope to see his family. She added that all family members hoped that the US president would respond positively. According to the pilot’s wife, after his mother died, his emotional and physical state deteriorated.
Russian civilian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia in May 2010, and was later secretly transferred to the US. In April 2011, a jury found him guilty of conspiracy to smuggle a major drug shipment into the US, and sentenced him to 20 years behind bars. However, Yaroshenko pleaded not guilty, he considers his arrest a provocation and the case fabricated. The pilot is currently serving his sentence at Fort Dix in New Jersey.
On September 13, the US Federal Bureau of Prisons’ proposed Yaroshenko sign a document stating his readiness for being transferred to his country of citizenship to further serve out his prison sentence there. Thus an important condition was fulfilled in order to apply the 1983 Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, as Russia and the US are parties to it.
About the same time, the Russian Ministry of Justice forwarded a request to the US to provide the documents needed to accept and carry out the sentence in Russia which the US had imposed. Nevertheless, in January 2014, the US Department of Justice replied that this request had been rejected, and explained that Yaroshenko had a right to file another transfer request two years after the rejection.
Konstantin Yaroshenko’s mother Lyubov died of a heart attack in Russia’s southern city of Rostov-on-Don in early May 2017.
Yaroshenko’s wife and daughter earlier wrote a letter to Trump asking for clemency for the pilot and emphasizing that his possible release could help improve Russian-US relations. Prior to that, Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova had requested Trump grant clemency to Yaroshenko.