Monday, November 28, 2011

Russia Denies Drug-Dealer-for-Pilot Swap Deal with Tajikistan

Russia’s Foreign Ministry official Maxim Peshkov refuted media reports that the Russian pilot, recently released by a Tajikistan court, was exchanged for a Tajik drug dealer, earlier convicted in Russia, who happened to be a relative of the Tajik President. Russian pilot Vladimir Sadovnichy was sentenced by a Tajik court to 8 1/2 years in jail for smuggling, but weeks later was pardoned and released. Rustam Khukumov, a Tajik citizen, was sentenced by a Russian court to 9 1/2 years in jail for drug dealing (he was arrested with 10 kilos of heroin) in 2010. Peshkov said the Ministry has not received any requests concerning the exchange of Khukumov for Sadovnichy. Peshkov further said he did not know whether Khukumov had actually been released and called the reports that Khukumov is a relative [son-in-law’s brother] of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon "rumours".

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