Released pilot says Tajik security thwarted contacts with Russian embassy

Russian pilot Vladimir Sadovnichy, who was freed from prison in Tajikistan after two weeks of diplomatic and economic tit-for-tat with the Russian authorities, has accused Tajik security services of “dishonorable conduct,” saying they obstructed contact with Russian diplomats.

Sadovnichy and Estonian national Alexei Rudenko were arrested after flying into southern Tajikistan in March and jailed on November 8. Moscow said the charges were “politically motivated” and deported several hundred Tajik migrant workers; a move it denied was connected to the case.

On Thursday the pilot arrived from Tajikistan at Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport. “Tajik security services acted very dishonorably, if it had not been for this I might have made contact with the Russian embassy much earlier,” Sadovnichy said at a press conference after arrival.

Rudenko arrived in the Latvian capital Riga late on Wednesday and from there will drive to Tallinn by car.

A Tajik prosecutor asked the court on Tuesday to reduce the term to two and a half years. He also suggested the pilots be given amnesty as they had already spent six months in custody.

Sadovnichy said that he and Rudenko had not yet decided whether or not to challenge the Tajikistan court’s guilty verdict. “We will consult with lawyers, we will think, but the final decision has not yet been made.”

Lawyer for the pilots, Russia’s Public Chamber member Anatoly Kucherena also said that the decision will be taken within the next days. “The decision has not yet been taken, Vladimir’s psychological condition is still quite complicated,” the lawyer said.


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