MOSCOW (Sputnik) – US authorities are reluctant to review the cases of Russian citizens serving jail time in the United States, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department for Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights, Anatoly Viktorov, has told Sputnik.
"We haven't been able to move forward on the cases of Russians serving their sentences in the United States because of the absolute reluctance of Americans to review their sentences, despite [the fact] that the charges brought against them are obviously implausible," the diplomat said in an interview.
According to Viktorov, former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told Russian diplomats that the pair would complete their full sentences to serve as an example to others.
"Obviously, this was done to make the rest of Russians in the grip of 'US justice' more compliant," he suggested.
The Russian Foreign Ministry, Viktorov stressed, has not given up on them and is doing its best to bring the jailed Russians home. Bout and Yaroshenko are regularly visited by Russian consular staff and are in contact with their lawyers and relatives.
"This issue is regularly discussed with US at various levels," Viktorov said. The handover of Russian nationals is often raised by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during talks with US counterparts, he added.
Bout, a businessman, was arrested in Bangkok in 2008 in a joint US-Thai operation on suspicion he had conspired to kill US citizens by supplying weapons to Colombian rebels. Moscow has said the case is politicized and has urged Washington to release him.
Russian pilot Yaroshenko was arrested by FBI agents in May 2010 in Liberia on charges of preparing the transportation of a large batch of cocaine. Later, he was deported to the United States, and on September 7, 2011, an American court sentenced him to 20 years in prison.