Russia’s foreign ministry has issued a blanket foreign travel advisory notice, warning Russian nationals to abstain from travelling to countries that have extradition agreements with the United States.
The ministry had issued a similar warning on September 2 2013, saying that Russian nationals risked “being detained or arrested at the request of American law enforcement.” In its latest notice, the ministry said that “such risk has increased recently in relation to the anti-Russian sanctions introduced by the US.”
“The US administration, baselessly refusing to recognise the reunification of Crimea with Russia, which is fully in line with international law and the UN statute, is attempting to make a routine practice of the ‘hunt’ on Russian nationals in third countries, with their subsequent extradition to the US and their sentencing on dubious, as a rule, charges,” the ministry said.
The Russian ministry’s notice also accused the US of failing to notify Russian consular services of charges being pressed against Russian nationals, as well as failing to notify consular services when arrests are made.
It goes on to say that “American-style justice is characterised by its prejudiced attitude towards Russian nationals and the trials against those who were de facto kidnapped and extradited to the US usually end in lengthy prison sentences”. As evidence of such bias, the ministry cites the cases of Konstantin Yaroshenko and Viktor Bout.
(Yaroshenko is a Russian pilot, arrested in May 2010 in Liberia on charges of preparing to ship four tonnes of cocaine from Columbia; he was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 2011. Viktor Bout, nicknamed ‘the Merchant of Death’, was arrested in Bangkok in 2008; in 2012, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for conspiring to sell weapons to a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist group based in Colombia.)
In conclusion, the Russian foreign ministry advised Russian nationals to avoid travelling abroad, “especially countries that have signed extradition treaties with the US, if there are any suspicions that US law enforcement might target them.”
Bulgaria is among the countries that have such an agreement in place (since 1924) and is among the main destinations for Russian tourists, with 390 000 Russians visiting the country in 2012, according to figures from Russia’s tourism authority Rosturizm.
(Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Photo: kremlin.ru)