Russian accused pleads not guilty to smuggling US technology, weapons | News of the Russian-Ukrainian war

A Russian official has pleaded not guilty to the United States to criminal chargesUS export controls and money laundering US military equipment and supplies from Russia to support its war against Ukraine.

Russian citizen Vadim Konoshchenok, who was extradited Thursday from Estonia to the USfiled the petition in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, on Friday.

U.S. District Judge Ramon Reyes ordered Konoshchenok to be held pending trial after prosecutors called him a flight risk.

Sabrina Shroff, Konoshchenok’s US attorney, declined to comment, and the Russian embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Konoshchenok, 48, was arrested by Estonian authorities in October 2022 while trying to cross into Russia with 35 types of semiconductors and electronics, some of which were ordered by the US to export. He was also charged with smuggling US-made weapons used in the manufacture of firearms, according to the indictment.

“Konoshchenok has also been repeatedly stopped by Estonian border officials for smuggling hundreds of thousands of American-made and controlled ammunition into Russia, including 6.5 mm, 7 mm, .338 and .308 magnums. , which are often used by criminals. , as well as .223 grade military rounds,” United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York he said in his voice.

“So far, more than half a ton.” [450kg] weapons linked to Konoshchenok were found or intercepted before they were imported into Russia,” he said.

Konoshchenok was the central figure in a seven-person smuggling ring, which consisted of five Russians and two Americans who worked “under the direction of Russian intelligence agencies” to obtain US electronics and other goods banned by US export authorities. .

He faces up to 30 years in prison for conspiracy, export violations, smuggling and money laundering.

Andrew Adams of the US Department of Justice said Konoshchenok “allegedly provided advanced American technologies and weapons to Russia for use in their illegal and illegal invasion of Ukraine”.

According to prosecutors, the suspect told his co-conspirators via electronic messages that he would charge a 10 percent commission on the sale of controlled substances.

“You can’t do less. Penalties,” he wrote, according to the prosecutors.

Prisoners exchange

Konoshchenok’s release to the US comes as Washington seeks to negotiate return of US citizens held by Moscow.

They include Paul Whelan, a corporate security official convicted in a Russian espionage trial, and Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who faces espionage charges.

The U.S. has denied involvement in espionage, but has been negotiating to see if it can be exchanged with Russian hostages.

Last December, Washington sold Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout to US arms smuggler Brittney Griner, who was jailed in Russia a few months ago on drug charges.

In April 2022, Russia released Trevor Reed, a former marine who had been arrested two years earlier for assaulting Russian police.

At the same time, the US freed a Russian pilot who was in prison for drug smuggling.

The US also has Alexander Vinnik, a Russian moneylender who was extradited to Greece last year, and Vladimir Dunaev, a malware hacker and ransomer who was extradited to South Korea in 2021.

And Washington is seeking the extradition from Brazil of Sergey Cherkasov, a Russian spy who went to graduate school in Washington undercover.

Konoshchenok’s trial comes as US officials seek to strengthen foreign policy and sanctions that have hindered Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

His next court appearance is July 31.

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