MOSCOW, April 12 - RAPSI. Moscow will take all possible legal steps to ensure the repatriation of Russian businessman Viktor Bout and pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko sentenced to long prison terms in the United States, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
“We are concerned about the fate of our citizens, regardless of the accusations against them,” Lavrov, who is attending a G8 meeting in Washington, told reporters on Wednesday.
“We want them to be back in Russia,” he said, adding that this issue could be resolved under existing international laws and agreements.
“We are signatories to a number of relevant international conventions, which ensure collaboration in the area of mutual legal assistance,” the Russian minister said. “I am sure we can work it out.”
Viktor Bout was arrested in Thailand in 2008 and extradited to the United States. In November, 2011 the jury returned guilty verdicts on all four counts related to a conspiracy to kill Americans and U.S. officials, the illegal acquisition and export of surface-to-air missiles, and the support of terrorism through cooperation with the Colombian FARC guerrilla organization.
Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko was sentenced in the United States to 20 years in prison for attempted drug smuggling on September 8, 2011.
Yaroshenko pleaded not guilty at his arraignment. Bout also denies all the charges against him.
The U.S. prosecution maintains that Yaroshenko accepted a proposal by U.S. agents to carry four tonnes of cocaine from South America to Africa and on to the United States.
Bout's arrest was based on provocation: the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which has also been combating terrorism since 2001, contacted him through an old acquaintance of his. DEA agents pretended to be FARC commanders.