Russian pilot released in Tajikistan dismisses political motives for his capture

Russian pilot, Vladimir Sadovnichy, who was freed from Tajik prison after two weeks of diplomatic and economic wrangling with the Russian authorities, said that there were not any political motives in the trial against him.

“There were no political motives in the trial against me and my colleague, Alexei Rudenko,” Sadovnichy said. “There were people who wanted to seize our planes. I apologize that Russian-Tajik relations had soured because of these corrupt officials.”

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.

A Tajik prosecutor asked the court on Tuesday to reduce the term to two and a half years. He also suggested the pilots be released in amnesty ending on December 1 as they had already spent six months in custody.

The pilot also said the trial was too dragged out and no one knew how it would end if Russian media and authorities had not interfered. “I realized that the decision on our fate will be made not in the court-room but through publicity and public opinion.”

Sadovnichy expressed regret that Russian-Tajik relations were jeopardized after the trial.

Russian ambassador to Dushanbe, Yury Popov, said the conflict would not influence the talks on extending Russia’s lease of a military base in Tajikistan.

“The situation with migrants did not and will not influence the talks on the military base,” the diplomat said.

Moscow and Dushanbe are currently in talks on the continued market-based lease of a base in Tajikistan by the Russian military. Talks to extend the lease beyond 2014 were held at the working-group level in August.


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