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Russia demands access to Russian drug smuggler in U.S. prison

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The Russian government on Friday demanded that the U.S. Departments of State and Justice allow Russian physicians access to an alleged drug smuggler currently incarcerated in a federal prison. President Vladimir Putin's government in Moscow claims the Russian national was a victim of police torture when he was nabbed in Liberia by U.S. special forces and then extradited to the United States in 2010, according to the Russian news media.

In a statement released on Friday night, the Russian Foreign Ministry urged U.S. authorities to allow Russian medical doctors to examine Konstantin Yaroshenko, a former pilot now serving 20 years for his involvement in smuggling cocaine into the United States.

The Russian government claims that Yaroshenko's attorney reported the health of his imprisoned client is becoming worse.

This latest controversy is but another in a string divisive issues that include the Syria rebellion, Russia's crackdown on homosexuals, U.S. missile defense, and Russia's decision to give U.S. spy, Edward Snowden, sanctuary.

"We have repeatedly drawn attention to the worsening of his chronic illnesses that resulted from the torture and abuse he suffered during his arrest," according to the Ministry's statement.

"The United States is committed to meeting its obligations under both international and domestic law for proper treatments of persons detained or incarcerated in the criminal justice system, including the provision of adequate medical care," a spokesman said in a rebuttal statement.

Moscow has repeatedly demanded that both 41-year-old Yaroshenko and imprisoned arms dealer Viktor Bout be extradited back to Russian and Russian officials went as far as accusing the U.S. Justice Department of "biased and politically motivated prosecutions of its citizens."

Bout, who was extradited from Thailand to the United States in November 2010, is serving 25 years for conspiring to kill Americans and to provide help to a group deemed a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, according to an Examiner news story.

Until his arrest in March 2008, Bout was an alleged international weapons trafficker. To carry out his weapons trafficking business, Bout assembled a fleet of cargo airplanes capable of transporting weapons and military equipment to various parts of the world, including Africa, South America and the Middle East, the Examiner reported.

In 2004, as a result of his weapons trafficking activities in Liberia, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had placed Bout on the Specially Designated Nationals list, which prohibits any transactions between Bout and any U.S. nationals, and freezes any of Bout’s assets that are within the jurisdiction of the United States.



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