November 18, 2010
A top Russian diplomat has accused the United States of trying to pressure suspected arms dealer Viktor Bout into confessing to crimes he had not committed during his extradition from Thailand.
Russia's consul general in New York, Andrei Yushmanov, made the accusations on November 17, after making the first visit by a Russian diplomat to Bout in New York, where he is now in detention.
Bout, a former Soviet air force officer, was flown to the United States from Thailand on November 16 to face terrorism and arms trafficking charges.
The United States says that since the early 1990s, Bout was supplying arms to dictators and conflict zones in Africa, South America, and the Middle East.
Russia has said his extradition from Thailand was unlawful.
On November 17, Bout pleaded not guilty before a U.S. judge and was ordered to be held under arrest without bail.
compiled from agency reports
Viktor Bout claims pressure from U.S. officials (Update 1)
U.S. officials attempted to force a confession from Russian alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout during an extradition flight from Thailand to the United States, a senior Russian diplomat said on Thursday.
"According to Viktor Bout, the Americans attempted to convince him to make a confession of the crimes he had never committed, and promised some kind of privileges in return. Bout rejected all these offers," Russia's Consul General in New York Andrei Yushmanov said after a meeting with Bout at a detention facility.
Bout, 43, was extradited to the United States on Tuesday after spending more than two and half years in Thai prisons. He was officially charged in a New York City court on Wednesday. His charges include a conspiracy to supply arms to terrorist groups and a conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals.
Bout pleaded not guilty at the hearing on Wednesday, and he is being kept in a solitary cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York after a federal judge denied him bail.
Yushmanov said Bout was satisfied with his current lawyer appointed by a U.S. court, although he could look for other options in the future.
"We will help him hire a paid lawyer if it becomes necessary," the diplomat said.
The next hearing in the case of the former Russian officer, who was dubbed the Merchant of Death, will be held on January 10 next year.
Bout could face life in prison if convicted on all four charges against him.
NEW YORK, November 18 (RIA Novosti)
Russia, Nigeria reach out for strategic partnership
Nov 18, 2010 02:01 Moscow Time
Russia and Nigeria expect to elevate their relations to that of strategic partnership. This was announced on Wednesday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, following talks with Nigerian counterpart Odein Ajumogobia. The Minister noted that presently the ratification process of a number of important agreements is drawing to a close, in particular, on the mutual protection of investments and the use of peaceful nuclear energy.
Negotiations are underway for the construction of a nuclear power plant in Nigeria, the security of which will be monitored by the IAEA; issues are under discussion regarding cooperation in the fuel and energy complex.
November 25th marks the 50 anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Nigeria
Russia is planning to launch two Nigerian satellites into orbit in December, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.
NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X earth monitoring satellites will be launched to a solar-synchronized orbit by a Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr heavy carrier rocket.
"We are planning to launch two Nigerian satellites on board our carrier [rocket] in December," Lavrov told reporters on Wednesday after a meeting with his Nigerian counterpart Odein Ajumogobia in Abuja.
NigeriaSat-2 will be used primarily for resource management and mapping of the Nigerian territory, while NigeriaSat-X will assist with disaster relief and global environmental monitoring campaigns.
Nigeria became the third African country to enter the space age, after South Africa and Algeria, when Russia launched NigeriaSat-1 earth monitoring satellite in 2003.
ABUJA (Nigeria), November 18 (RIA Novosti)
Transcript of Answers by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Media Questions at Joint Press Conference Following Talks with Kenya’s Acting Foreign Minister George Saitoti, Nairobi, November 16, 2010
Question: How can you comment on the information that Viktor Bout has been extradited to the US?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: It's a long story. The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement today with respect to this. We note that, contrary to the two decisions of the criminal court of Thailand, which had found Bout’s guilt unproven, however, by a decision of the Government of Thailand, he was extradited to the US. I consider this an unprecedented political pressure on the judicial process and the Government of Thailand. The whole story is an example of an outrageous injustice. We as a country will continue assisting Viktor Bout as a Russian citizen in every possible way. That’s all I can say.
Question: Did you reach an understanding on combating and prosecuting Somali pirates?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: We discussed in detail the situation around Somalia, and the growth of pirate seizures of merchant vessels. This problem seriously concerns both Kenya and the Russian Federation. As far as I can tell, we have come to general conclusions about how to proceed. Of course, we must even more resolutely combat specific manifestations of piracy. Russian naval vessels, together with the navies of other countries, are actively engaged in this. The work will be continued and intensified. At the same time it is necessary to solve the problem of prosecuting the pirates, because the countries of the region, in particular Kenya, cannot physically cope with this problem. Their judicial system is overwhelmed.
Today we discussed the well-known Russian initiative on the need to establish an international tribunal to prosecute pirates. This question is now being actively discussed in the UN Security Council on the basis of the report of the Secretary General of the Organization. Our Kenyan friends support this work.
In addition to the symptoms, the causes of piracy must be dealt with; in our common belief, they are rooted in the deepest socio-economic problems of Somalia and in the absence of a full-fledged statehood of the country. In this context, we concurred on the need to actively support the Transitional Government of Somalia and the African Union Mission, which is intensively working there. We will enhance such cooperation, including through the UN Security Council.
Question: How would you comment on the level of international efforts to combat piracy?
Foreign Ministry Lavrov: The UN Security Council is currently considering the report of the Secretary General on the basis of the Council’s resolution which was initiated by Russia. The report contains a number of ways of organizing prosecutions for pirates. These proposals will be considered, a decision must be taken because the possibilities of the region’s countries have been exhausted. The international community must increase its contribution to fighting piracy.
Russia has suggested creating an international tribunal to combat piracy. All this should increase attention to this issue both in the UN Security Council and through initiatives like Kenya’s; it should attract the attention of the international community.
Question: Over many years, this is the first visit by a Russian Foreign Minister to Kenya. Why did it take place right now?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: The answer is simple: better late than never. I think that you would not want to see Russian ministers continue not to come to Kenya.
Question: Was a question raised about the organization of direct air links between Russia and Kenya, and have any agreements been reached in this area?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: As regards direct flights, the Russian company Aeroflot and Kenyan Airways really did conclude an agreement. As I understand it, there remain a number of technical issues. Politically, we support this process. From a practical point of view it is a commercial matter, and the companies must make profits.