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Moscow Outraged Over Citizen Sentenced To U.S. Prison Term

Dmitry Ustinov was extradited by the Lithuanian authorities.
Dmitry Ustinov was extradited by the Lithuanian authorities.

Moscow is reacting furiously to the sentencing of Dmitry Ustinov, a Russian citizen who admitted to conspiring to violate an arms control law in July.

"We are not going to put up with such 'cowboy's methods' against our citizens, who, in case of arrest, must stand trial in a Russian court and in accordance with Russian legislation," said Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich on October 9.

Ustinov was detained by Lithuanian authorities in April 2013 at the request of the U.S. He was deported to the U.S. to stand trial that August.

He was sentenced to 3 years in jail on October 7 for conspiring to ship to Russia various articles, including night vision equipment, that the U.S. prohibits export without a license. However, the judge awarded him credit for time served, so his sentence will be about 1 and 1/2 years.

Moscow tried unsuccessfully to fight the extradition from Lithuania, a former Soviet republic that has since joined the European Union and NATO. The United States and Russia do not have an extradition treaty, but Washington does have extradition treaties with other governments, allowing the U.S. to request a country to apprehend a Russian citizen outside Russia.

The case is the latest in a series of Russian citizens extradited from a third country to cause the ire of the Russian Federation. The case demonstrates how even those accused or convicted of serious criminality can draw official attention.

'Merchant Of Death'

Arms dealer Viktor Bout, dubbed the "Merchant of Death" for allegedly smuggling arms to unsavory regimes across the globe, was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2012. The Russian citizen was extradited from Thailand in 2010, after Russia had been fighting the extradition since 2008. The Russian Foreign Ministry called the decision "unjustified" and "agenda-driven."

Konstantin Yaroshenko was sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempted drug smuggling in September 2011. He was arrested in Liberia in May 2010 and extradited to the U.S. The Russian government has repeatedly denounced his arrest, characterizing it as "kidnapping" and raising questions about his status as a prisoner.

Alleged Russian hacker Roman Seleznev, the son of a Duma deputy, was arrested in the Maldives in July, transported to Guam and eventually Seattle, where he will be put on trial. He faces a slew of charges including bank fraud and aggravated identity theft for allegedly stealing and selling hundreds of thousands of credit card numbers.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has warned its citizens to stay home in light of political tensions over Ukraine.

"The U.S. administration, groundlessly refusing to recognize the reunification of Crimea with Russia, which is in full compliance with international law and the UN Charter, is trying to make routine practice out of a 'hunt' for Russian citizens in third countries with the goal of their subsequent extradition and conviction in the U.S. on the basis of, as a rule, dubious charges," it said in an April statement.

"We strongly recommend Russian citizens refrain from traveling abroad, particularly to countries that have extradition treaties with the U.S."

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