Russia 100723 Basic Political Developments

Medvedev urges more fines, less jail for employers withholding salary

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Medvedev urges more fines, less jail for employers withholding salary
12:00 23/07/2010

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has introduced a bill concerning arrears in salary, retirement benefits, scholarships and other payments to the lower house of Russia's parliament, the Kremlin's press service said on Friday.

Current Russian legislation does not differentiate the responsibilities for full or partial withholding of payments; therefore, Russian lawyers do not have a common position on using this norm of law.

"Taking into account the tendency of the humanization of [Russia's] criminal legislation, criminal punishment for such deeds in terms of imprisonment should be eased, and the increase of fines should be stipulated," an explanation to the bill said.

The bill stipulates stricter punishment for those employers who do not pay salaries in full or pay amounts under the minimum wage rate.

More than 28,900 business heads and managers were put on trial for withholding salaries in 2009, and the total amount of salary arrears reached 3.5 billion rubles ($115 million) by the end of 2009.

However, in February 2010, it exceeded 4.1 billion rubles ($135million) but declined to 3.2 billion rubles ($105.42 million) in June, the Federal State Statistic Service Rosstat said.

MOSCOW, June 23 (RIA Novosti)

Medvedev signs total drink driving ban
10:26 23/07/2010

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a bill enforcing a zero alcohol limit for drivers, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Current legislation allows drivers to get behind the wheel with a small amount of alcohol in their blood.

The new legislation aims to eliminate drink driving accidents, which are all too common in Russia.

The bill was approved by the lower house of Russia's parliament, the State Duma, earlier in July.

State Duma speaker Boris Gryzlov earlier said tougher punishments for drunk driving, enforced in the past few years, including the suspension of drivers' licenses and penalties of up to 15 days in jail, had been effective.

He said the number of car accidents caused by drink drivers had decreased by 11% and the number of those killed in such accidents dropped 35% in the first five months of 2010.

MOSCOW, July 23 (RIA Novosti)

Russian pilot trial to begin in US on Aug 12

23.07.2010, 08.24

NEW YORK, July 23 (Itar-Tass) -- The trial of Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko detained in Africa on suspicion of drug smuggling and conveyed to the United States will begin on August 12, Russian Consul General in New York Andrei Yushmanov told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

Charges against Yaroshenko and some other suspects have been brought by the prosecutor's office of New York's southern district in Manhattan.

The 42-year-old Russian pilot was detained in Africa on suspicion of involvement in international drug smuggling and conveyed under guard to the United States from Liberia’s capital Monrovia.

Yaroshenko has been held in an investigation jail in New York. Together with other detained persons he is suspected of organizing an international scheme of cocaine smuggling from South America.

According to Yaroshenko, he was taken under guard by persons wearing civilian clothes, who did not present any documents. He was held in a Liberian jail for some days and then carried by a transport plane to the United States, and only after arriving in New York he got to know he was in the United States.

U.S. Blames Fax Error For Russia Mistake
July 23, 2010

The United States has apologized to Russia for failing to promptly notify Moscow that a Russian citizen suspected of drug crimes was in U.S. custody.

The U.S. State Department blamed the error on a U.S. official hitting the wrong button on a fax machine -- sending the notification not to Russia, but to a third country.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said Washington had apologized to Russia over the mistake concerning the detention of cargo-plane pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was arrested in the West African nation of Liberia in May.

Crowley declined to identify which country received the notice, but Reuters quoted U.S. officials as saying it went to Romania.

The Russian Foreign Ministry earlier accused the U.S. of "kidnapping" Yaroshenko and violating international law and U.S.-Russian pacts in the case.

Liberian authorities took custody of Yaroshenko on May 28 during a drug bust, and he was handed over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency on May 30.

According to a U.S. federal indictment, Yaroshenko flew "thousand-kilogram" shipments of cocaine throughout South America, Africa and Europe.

He has been charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years in U.S. prison and a maximum of life imprisonment.

compiled from agency reports

U.S. apologizes to Russia for late notification on Yaroshenko's arrest
05:33 23/07/2010

The U.S. Department of State has apologized to Russia for a delayed notification on the arrest of a Russian pilot in Liberia, suspected of drug smuggling.

The Russian Foreign Ministry blasted on Wednesday the United States over the detention of Konstantin Yaroshenko, 41, saying it was practically a kidnapping and a violation of international law.

"We just happened to send [the notice] to the wrong embassy. Normally we try to arrange these consular notifications within 72 hours and we didn't discover our error until it was after that period of time," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told journalists.

"We pressed the wrong button on the fax machine, to be brutally frank," he said, but refused to name the embassy, which subsequently received the notification.

"We have apologized to Russia," Crowley said adding that the United States considers the matter to be resolved.

Yaroshenko along with other members of an alleged drug trafficking group, was detained in Liberia in May. On Tuesday, a New York city court arrested them. They are accused of trafficking of cocaine to South America, Africa and Europe mainly from Liberia and Venezuela.

Prosecutors say Yaroshenko was an organizer of drug trafficking.

All of the members of the group have denied the accusations; however, if convicted, may face from 10 years imprisonment to a life sentence.

The group was rooted out by Liberia and later U.S. and Liberian national security services conducted a special operation and arrested the members of the group.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that on June 28 it sent an official note to the U.S. State Department with demands to clarify the situation and explain the activities of U.S. authorities. On July 14, the ministry invited U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle to discuss the inadmissibility of actions conducted by U.S. authorities during the Yaroshenko's arrest and his transfer to New York.

WASHINGTON, July 23 (RIA Novosti)

Washington blames fax for diplomatic row with Russia

23.07.2010, 04.33

WASHINGTON, July 23 (Itar-Tass) -- The United States has apologized to Russia for failing to give it prompt notice about the detention of a Russian national and blamed the error on an unidentified official who pressed the wrong fax button.

“We pressed the wrong button on the fax machine, to be brutally honest,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in his daily briefing on Thursday. “We have apologized to Russia,” he added.

Crowley refused to identify which country received the notice, but Reuters quoted an anonymous US official as saying it was faxed to the Romanian embassy.

Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko was detained in Liberia in late May and handed over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. He is accused in the United States of flying "thousand-kilogram" shipments of cocaine throughout South America, Africa and Europe.

Russia issued a harsh statement regarding Yaroshenko’s detention and relocation saying the talk was about “kidnapping of a Russian citizen from a third country.”

“In addition, U.S. authorities have not informed the Russian diplomatic missions about Yaroshenko's detention. The actions of U.S. special services in the forcible and secret relocation of our citizen from Monrovia to New York could only be seen as open lawlessness,” the ministry said.

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