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Pompeo to dwell upon detained US citizens in Russia during Sochi visit

Meanwhile, the official emphasized that US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman plays a "very active role" on such issues

WASHINGTON, May 11. /TASS/. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo intends to dwell upon the issue of American citizens detained in Russia during the upcoming visit to Sochi, a senior State Department official confirmed at a teleconference for journalists on Friday focusing on the diplomat's planned trip to Russia.

"The (US) administration places the highest priority on the safety and the welfare of US citizens overseas. We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular services in cases where US citizens are detained (in other countries)," he said.

Meanwhile, the official emphasized that US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman plays a "very active role" on such issues. "And so I don’t have something specific (regarding the matter) but I would expect this issue will be discussed," he added when asked whether Pompeo would dwell upon the situation around the cases of Paul Whelan and Michael Calvey during his meetings with Russian authorities.

Paul Whelan was detained in Moscow on December 28, 2018, while on a spy mission, according to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). The FSB Investigative Department has launched an investigation under Section 276 of the Russian Criminal Code (espionage), which carries a punishment of 10-20 years in prison.

Michael Calvey, the founder of the Baring Vostok private equity firm, is accused of embezzling 2.5 billion rubles ($37.5 mln). Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal case into embezzlement from Vostochny Bank on February 13, 2019. Michael Calvey is the key defendant in the case. On February 15, the law enforcement agencies arrested Calvey and five other suspects. They are all facing charges under part 4 article 159 of Russia’s Criminal Code (Swindling committed on a large scale by an organized group).

Mike Pompeo will pay his first visit to Russia as US Secretary of State on May 13-14. He will visit Moscow first, and later - Sochi, where he is expected to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The Kremlin has not ruled out that Russian President Vladimir Putin could meet with the US' top diplomat.