MOSCOW, December 6 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed charges brought against Russian diplomats by the United States as an attempt to take revenge for “issues unrelated to bilateral relations,” a senior Russian diplomat said Friday.
The US Attorney’s office in New York on Thursday accused 49 current and former Russian diplomats and their spouses in New York City of defrauding a government health care program aimed at helping the poor of $1.5 million.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Washington should have pursued its complaints through diplomatic channels, and not made the issue public.
‘‘We have many complaints about US diplomats in Moscow, but we are not making them public,’’ Ryabkov said.
Eleven of the 49 accused defendants are currently in the United States, five of whom are working at the Russian Mission to the United Nations and five of whom are spouses of the diplomats, the New York Southern District Attorney’s Office said.
US prosecutors alleged that during the period of the purported fraud from 2004 to August 2013, the defendants falsely underreported their income or fraudulently claimed that their children were US citizens to obtain Medicaid benefits associated with costs for pregnancy and childcare.
During the same period, the defendants spent “tens of thousands of dollars” on luxury vacations and expensive watches, clothes, shoes and jewelry at luxury retailers like Swarovski, Prada and Tiffany Co., the US Attorney’s Office said.