Warning for Russian citizens travelling abroad on the risk of detention or arrest in third countries at the request of US law enforcement agencies or intelligence services
Continuing on earlier warnings published by the Foreign Ministry on September 2, 2013, April 10, 2014, May 22, 2015, and April 11, 2016, we once again warn Russian citizens that there is still a real risk of detention or arrest in third countries at the request of US law enforcement agencies or intelligence services.
Despite our repeated appeals to organise Russian-US bilateral cooperation between the relevant agencies on the basis of the 1999 bilateral Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, we still see instances of the unacceptable practice of ‘hunting’ for Russian citizens around the world. The number of such incidents now exceeds 30. In 2016, four Russian citizens were extradited to the United States: Maxim Senakh, Alexander Sergeyev, and Mikhail Serov from Finland, and Mark Vartanyan from Norway. Among the latest cases, we can cite the recent arrest of Stanislav Lisov in Spain.
There have been cases when Russian citizens have been literally abducted. Such was the case of Konstantin Yaroshenko, abducted in Liberia in 2010 and secretly, in violation of Liberian and international law, taken to the United States. It was the same situation with Roman Seleznyov, abducted by American agents in July 2014 in the Maldives and taken by force first to Guam and then to Seattle, where he remains in custody.
After their arrest and extradition, Russian citizens have encountered a biased attitude from the American justice system. All kinds of means, including direct threats, have been used to make them plead guilty, despite the fictitious nature of many of the accusations against them, and if they refused to plead guilty, they were sentenced to very long prison terms, as was the case with Konstantin Yaroshenko, for example, and with Russian businessman Viktor Bout.
Russia’s diplomatic missions abroad have always provided and will continue to provide consular and legal support to Russians who find themselves in these kinds of unfortunate circumstances, and work to ensure their lawful rights and interests are respected and for their swift return home. But considering the circumstances noted above, we strongly recommend that Russian citizens, when planning travel abroad, weigh up carefully all the risks, especially if they have reason to believe that American law enforcement agencies might have demands in their regard. This concerns above all travel to countries that have signed extradition agreements with the United States (the list of these countries is published on the US State Department website).