In a statement published late on Friday, the Russian Foreign
Ministry said a Russian doctor should examine Konstantin Yaroshenko,
a pilot serving a 20-year sentence for conspiracy to smuggle cocaine
into the United States and whose health, his lawyer says, has been
U.S.-Russia relations are fraught, with the two countries at
loggerheads over Syria, where Russia backs President Bashar
al-Assad, Putin's crackdown on internal dissent, and U.S. missile
defense plans, which Russia says threaten its security.
Their relationship was further strained when Russia granted asylum
to former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
The United States and Russia are also locked in a test of wills over
Ukraine, which has been racked by anti-government protests and
Yaroshenko's lawyer, Alexei Tarasov, told the Russia Today state TV
channel that his client had experienced symptoms of a heart attack,
but was not being helped. He also said Yaroshenko had told him he
may not live through the weekend.
"The Russian side emphasized that the full responsibility for the
life and health of our fellow citizen lies with the United States
authorities," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in its statement. It
would not name the U.S. diplomat.
"We have repeatedly drawn attention to the worsening of his chronic
illnesses that resulted from torture and abuse he suffered during
his arrest," the ministry said.
The American embassy was not immediately available to comment.
The Yaroshenko case comes nearly two years after the United States
passed the Magnitsky Act, subjecting Russian officials implicated in
the death of a Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky to visa bans
and assets freeze in the United States.
[to top of second column]
Magnitsky died in suspicious circumstances in his jail cell in 2009.
Moscow has called for Yaroshenko to be extradited along with jailed
arms dealer Viktor Bout, accusing the United States of biased and
politically motivated prosecutions of its citizens.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said in its statement that Russian
diplomats and doctors were preparing a visit to the Fort Dix Federal
Correctional Facility in New Jersey, where Yaroshenko is being held.
"Russia has urged the United States authorities not to obstruct this
mission, but instead offer all possible assistance," the ministry
Yaroshenko was arrested by U.S. special forces in the Liberian
capital of Monrovia in May 2010 and convicted in 2011. Last year his
sentence appeal was rejected.
Bout, who was extradited from Thailand to the United States in
November 2010, is serving a 25-years sentence for conspiring to kill
Americans and to provide help to a group deemed a terrorist
organization by the United States.
(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.