Moscow condemns sentencing of Russian pilot in U.S.

Russia is questioning the 20-year prison sentence for drug-trafficking that a U.S. court has handed down to Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.

Yaroshenko, 43, was arrested in an international drug bust in Liberia last year. A New York jury convicted him in April. He received his sentence on September 7.

“The verdict by a U.S. judge who sentenced Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko to 20 years in jail on charges of an attempt to smuggle drugs to the United States raises serious questions,” Lukashevich said at a news briefing in Moscow.

Lukashevich said Washington’s actions amounted to a “virtual kidnapping of a Russian citizen.” He sharply criticized U.S. officials for “exerting physical and psychological pressure” on Yaroshenko after his arrest.

Agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) took custody of Yaroshenko after he was detained on May 28 last year by Liberian authorities and whisked him to New York without notifying Russia.

“These actions cast serious doubts on the legality of the investigation and the trial,” he said.

“The Russian Foreign Ministry will demand that Yaroshenko be extradited to his home country,” the diplomat said.

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