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Moscow expects fair verdict to extradite Vinnik to Russia, says ambassador

Moscow expects that the Greek authorities will pass a fair verdict on the extradition to Russia of its national Alexander Vinnik

MOSCOW, December 3./TASS/. Moscow expects that the Greek authorities will pass a fair verdict on the extradition to Russia of its national Alexander Vinnik, arrested in Greece last year on fraud charges, Russian Ambassador to Greece Andrey Maslov said in an interview with TASS on Monday.

"We expect to see a fair decision on Vinnik’s extradition to Russia, the country whose national he is, and where, as you know, he is facing rather serious charges," he said.

"We have a positive verdict of the Greek judicial authorities - a court in Thessaloniki and the Supreme Court. The US and France also seek the extradition of the Russian national, there are also rulings of local courts on these requests. An appeal procedure is underway on one of them," the diplomat added.

Maslov pointed out that the Russian Embassy in Athens and the Consulate General in Thessaloniki are making efforts to protect the legitimate rights and interests of the Russian national and stay in touch with the prison authorities to make sure that his confinement conditions are normal and his safety is ensured. "Vinnik receives consular assistance on a permanent basis. In our activity we are guided by the Vienne Convention on Consular Relations, the Consular Convention with Greece, the bilateral agreement on legal assistance in civil and criminal matters as well as the consular charter of Russia," the diplomat said.

"I met with Alexander Vladimirovich [Vinnik] in Korydallos Prison not long ago. I was trying to lift his spirits, convince him that he is not forgotten and that his case in in the focus of our attention.

Vinnik’s detention

Vinnik was detained in Greece on July 25, 2017, at the request of the US, where he is accused of laundering four to nine billion dollars through the now defunct BTC-e cryptocurrency trading platform. He has been in a Greek prison since then. Greece's Supreme Court ruled in 2017 to extradite Vinnik to the United States but revised its decision this year and ruled to extradite him to Russia instead. In June, France sent a European arrest warrant for the Russian defendant to Athens.

Due to the conflicting extradition requests, the decision on Vinnik’s handover is likely to be made by the country’s Minister of Justice or, possibly, Greece’s leadership.

As for the charges leveled against him by the US, Vinnik told TASS in October that he was only a technical expert at the BTC-e cryptocurrency trading platform. "I gave some advice to that platform. That’s not a crime, and the exchange itself is not a crime, it is just a platform for exchanging cryptocurrency," the Russian national explained.