MOSCOW, July 28 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow sees no linkage between the crisis in Ukraine and the US practice of detaining Russian citizens abroad, including the most recent case of Roman Seleznev, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.
“No, I do not link this situation to Ukraine, because the Americans have long been practicing kidnaps of Russian citizens,” he said. “This outrageous practice contradicts our bilateral agreements, and we demand it to be stopped,” the Russian top diplomat told journalists at a press conference.
Lavrov added Russians were kidnapped on US orders while staying abroad even when bilateral relations between Moscow and Washington were not as strained as they are now, and there is no end in sight to the practice.
Speaking about the recent US abduction of a 30-year-old Russian national while in the Maldives, Lavrov said the incident was “almost gangster-like.”
“All in all, they seized the man, forced him into a plane and made off in an unknown direction. Maldivian authorities had not even been informed,” Lavrov explained.
On July 5, Roman Seleznev was detained on cyber-fraud charges at an airport in the Maldives and flown to the US island of Guam. The Russian stands accused of hacking into point-of-sale systems at a number of US shops to steal credit card data from customers.
Seleznev faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of bank fraud, while the other charges also carry significant sentences.
The Russian has denied the charges, while his lawyers have demanded he be released and the case dismissed on the grounds that he was illegally detained outside US jurisdiction. The violation would invalidate any legal proceedings against Seleznev, according to his lawyers.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has called the incident an unfriendly move by the United States and a de facto kidnapping, while the government of the Maldives promised to review the legal framework surrounding Seleznev’s arrest.