Warning for Russian citizens travelling abroad in connection with US threat

In connection with the arrest of Russian citizen, 27 year-old Yegor Kryuchkov, in the United States on August 22, 2020 and following the warnings published by the Russian Foreign Ministry on September 2, 2013, April 10, 2014, May 22, 2015, April 11, 2016, February 16, 2017, February 1, 2018 and January 25, 2019, we would like to again draw the attention of our compatriots travelling abroad that they could face a threat of persecution by the US law-enforcement agencies and special services. This threat exists both in the United States and can be created through inquiries by its authorities in third countries.

We have to state that despite our numerous appeals for normalising cooperation based on the 1999 Treaty between the US and Russian Governments on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, US law-enforcement bodies continue to arrest Russian citizens all over the world. Since 2008, 56 such cases have been recorded, including six in 2019.

We have repeatedly faced situations where US special services organised open provocations against our citizens and even abducted them. This happened with Konstantin Yaroshenko in Liberia in 2010 and Roman Seleznyov in the Maldives in 2014. Both were taken by force to the US without investigation.

Having ended up in the hands of US justice, Russian citizens often face a biased attitude and real legal iniquity. To force them to confess to framed charges, they are subjected to powerful psychological pressure and kept in unbearable conditions. This is what happened with Marina Butina who was convicted in the US just for having a Russian passport. If our citizens refuse to plead guilty, they are demonstratively sentenced to long prison terms, something that happened to Yaroshenko and Viktor Bout.

The example of Bogdana Osipova is also indicative. She was charged in the US with the abduction of her own daughters, and her demands that her former American husband, who was physically abusive, pay alimony were qualified as extortion. In the process she was subjected to open blackmail, with promises to reduce her seven-year term if she gave up her children who lived in Russia and were Russian citizens.

The situation is complicated by the fact that after the Russian consulates general in San Francisco and Seattle we closed by the US authorities in 2017-2018, Russia has lost any consular presence on the US West Coast. This was a serious blow to our ability to provide timely support to imprisoned Russians in the US.

Naturally, Russian diplomats are doing all they can to help their compatriots in trouble, ensure their lawful rights and help them get home as soon as possible. However, we would like to advise our compatriots to thoroughly weigh the risk of persecution by the US when planning foreign travel. This primarily applies to trips to the United States and the countries that have extradition treaties with it. You can see the list of these countries on the website: https://2009-2017.state.gov/documents/organization/71600.pdf