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Russian State Arms Dealer Denies Overcharging For Afghan Helicopters

A Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter flies past during the opening ceremony of the Afghan National Civil Order Police headquarters in Kabul in January 2010.
The head of Russia's state-owned arms-exporting company has rejected accusations that Moscow inflated its prices for helicopters the United States is providing to Afghanistan.

Rosoboroneksport chief Anatoly Isaikin said in an exclusive interview with Interfax that "the Pentagon is buying [the helicopters] at a very good, advantageous price."

On August 7, 12 U.S. senators sent a letter urging the Pentagon to cancel a $572 million order for 30 helicopters.

The senators said Rosoboroneksport was providing "weapons and ammunition to prop up the bloodthirsty regime of [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad."

Last month, the U.S. nongovernmental organization Human Rights First said Rosoboroneksport had increased the price of the Mi-17 helicopter from $4.4 million in 2008 to $18 million under the Pentagon contract.

Based on reporting by Interfax and "The Wall Street Journal"