MOSCOW, May 24 - RAPSI. Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, sentenced in the United States to 20 years in prison, complains of discrimination against him on racial and religious grounds, the Izvestia daily reports on Thursday.

Yaroshenko believes that his life is in jeopardy and calls on the Russian Justice Ministry to step in as a matter of urgency.

The ministry has confirmed the submission of Yaroshenko's appeal, in which he also requests his repatriation as per the terms of the international convention on the transfer of sentenced persons.

Yaroshenko was arrested in Liberia along with Nigerian Chigbo Peter Umeh in an undercover operation in May 2010. Shortly after, both were taken to the United States where Umeh was subsequently sentenced to 30 years and Yaroshenko to 20 years behind bars for attempted drugs trafficking. The sentence was appealed in September.

Two other suspects in the case were acquitted by the jury.

The prosecution maintains that Yaroshenko accepted a proposition from U.S. agents to carry four tonnes of cocaine from South America to Africa and then to the United States. He arrived in Liberia in May 2010 to discuss his fee with his Colombian partners. He was offered $4.5 million for cocaine transportation from Venezuela to Liberia and an extra $1.8 million for delivering the drugs to Nigeria and Ghana, from where a part of which was to be taken to the United States.

The pilot is being held in the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, 72 miles from New York, on the site of a former military base. Yaroshenko is above all concerned about the "particular attitude" two other inmates and the administration have toward him.

Furthermore, Yaroshenko has learnt that some of his relatives are in a critical financial condition, but without extra assistance, he is not in a position to be able to help them, nor can he continue in his fight to come home.

Only one Russian convicted in the United States, former UN diplomat Vladimir Kuznetsov, sentenced for money laundering, has ever been returned home according to the convention.