Moscow is providing all necessary assistance to Viktor Bout, a Russian citizen facing illegal arms dealing charges in the United States, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday.
Lavrov said Moscow would also provide assistance to another Russian, Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was sentenced by a U.S. court in September to 20 years in prison for conspiring to smuggle cocaine into the United States.
“Our citizens may be certain that our country will not leave them in an unjust situation…These cases have attracted wide publicity,” Lavrov said in a radio interview.
“We are actively supporting both [Bout and Yaroshenko], as well as other Russian citizens who find themselves in similar situations…This support includes hiring experienced lawyers if necessary,” the minister said.
According to Lavrov, Bout and Yaroshenko “were provoked to make some statements that were immediately used as evidence of their [alleged] crimes.”
“In both cases the laws of Thailand and Liberia were blatantly violated, and in both cases elementary norms of decent behavior in terms of notifying Russia were also violated,” Lavrov said.
Bout was arrested in a U.S. sting operation in Thailand in 2008 and extradited to the U.S. in November 2010 after a furious legal battle in Thai courts.
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.