Another scandal is gathering pace between Russia and the USA. This time it is about the detention of Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, whom US special services arrested in Africa's Liberia. The pilot was delivered to New York, where special agents brought serious charges against him.
Yaroshenko was arrested in May with a French citizen and three Africans. All of them were delivered to the USA. US officials said that the detainees had been trying to bribe high-ranking Liberian officials to make them turn a blind eye on the transportation of large batches of cocaine at first to Ghana and then to the States.
The Liberian officials supposedly notified the nation's special services, which in their turn reported the story to their colleagues in the United States. It was also said that the son of the Liberian president took part in the negotiations with the detainees as a gatekeeper after he had received adequate instructions from the special services.
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US prosecutors claim that 41-year-old Yaroshenko was a private pilot and an expert in long-distance deliveries of large batches of cocaine. They also said that Yaroshenko had performed a number of flights between South America, Africa and Europe. The Russian national has been charged with the transportation of thousands of tons of cocaine, presumably from Liberia and Venezuela.
US special services showed interest in the case after they had discovered that the drug traffickers were targeting America in their business. Now all the five suspects, including Yaroshenko, may face sentences from ten years to lifetime imprisonment.
The news about Yaroshenko's arrest became a shock for his relatives. Alexander Bozhenko, the pilot's lawyer, said that his client was a private air carrier. He left to Liberia on May 18 to discuss a possible job opportunity there. However, US special services seized him there and forced the man to travel to the States.
The lawyer emphasized that the Americans had no right to charge Yaroshenko with anything because he had never visited the USA before. The pilot provided his passport which contained no records to prove his previous visits to the United States.
The passport expired in April 2008. The pilot obtained a new passport, but only used it once for a trip to Liberia, from where he could not return home.
Bozhenko said that Yaroshenko's arrest had been conducted with numerous violations.
"He was arrested by unidentified individuals - six adult men - in his hotel room. His Russian passport, external passport, pilot ID and his cell phone were withdrawn from him," the lawyer said.
The lawyer also stated that the Russian national was ordered to take all of his clothes off. His hands and legs were cuffed afterwards.
"He had to stay like that for two days. The man had to spend the two days sitting on a chair. He was not given any water, nor did he have an opportunity to relieve himself. Instead, he was asked to sign some statements," Bozhenko said.
Yaroshenko signed those documents when he was driven to a subconscious state. Afterwards, he was flown to the States. The lawyer believes that the documents, which Yaroshenko signed, confirmed his agreement to be deported from Liberia to the USA. Bozhenko stressed out that the plane, which Bozhenko was piloting, could not perform transoceanic flights. Therefore, the arrested pilot could not transport cocaine between Africa and America.
This story may develop into a another large scandal in US-Russian relations. The Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry has already showed interest in the situation.
"The Russian Consulate General Office in New York has sent adequate inquiries to the New York division of the US State Department indicating the violation of the Vienna Convention of 1963 and the Consulate Convention of 1964," the statement from the ministry said.
The Russian Embassy in Washington is also investigating the incident. The embassy has sent a note to the US State Department saying that the Russian diplomats have not been informed about Yaroshenko's detention. The USA has not shown any reaction yet.
The story with the Russian pilot became the second large scandal in the US-Russian relations during the recent month. As for the previous spy scandal, the USA has found no evidence to charge the arrested Russian nationals and one citizen of Peru with espionage. All of them were accused of money-laundering.
It seems that there some forces in the USA deliberately try to aggravate the relations with Russia. They are most likely concerned about the initiative of the Obama administration to reset the relations with Russia.