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13:48 GMT +3 hours19 December 2014
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Russia insists on fair trial for Bout

Russia
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Russia insists that suspected arms dealer Viktor Bout is given a fair trial, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

Russia insists that suspected arms dealer Viktor Bout is given a fair trial, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

"We will not act as Bout's advocates and do not claim that he did not commit any illegal offences. That we do not know, and no-one will know, until justice is done," Lavrov said.

He said Russia provides its citizens with all the rights guaranteed by international law.

"We want to see justice prevail, nothing more," he added.

The Russian top diplomat said Bout's case sparked too much speculation in Russian and Western media.

"We are accused of protecting a criminal, though he has never been found guilty of anything by any court. I would like to make it absolutely clear that we are always obliged to protect the rights of Russian citizens, regardless of whether this citizen is a suspect or not. Especially, when no trial has yet taken place," Lavrov said.

He also said that the Russian consul met with Bout on Wednesday, and such contacts would continue.

"We communicated with Russian citizen Victor Bout through our consul in New York. The conditions he is being kept in are not quite perfect," Lavrov said.

Bout, 43, was extradited to the United States on Tuesday after spending more than two and half years in Thai prisons. He was officially charged in a New York City court on Wednesday. His charges include conspiring to supply arms to terrorist groups and kill U.S. nationals.

The next hearing in the case of the former Russian officer, dubbed the Merchant of Death, will be held on January 10 next year. Bout could face a 25 year sentence if convicted on all four charges against him.

MOSCOW, November 19 (RIA Novosti)