On May 21, 2021, Mira Terada, head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice, returned home from the United States where she had been imprisoned on trumped up charges for 888 days. Twenty-four months after her release, several Russians have been returned from U.S. captivity with her active participation, but many of their compatriots remain in U.S. prisons. On the anniversary of Mira Terada’s return home, the Foundation to Battle Injustice intends to increase its work to rescue Russian citizens from U.S. custody.
It has been exactly two years since Mira Terada returned home after being released from prison in the United States. In December 2018, a Russian citizen was arrested in the transit area of a Finnish airport at the request of the United States. The grounds for the arrest had no evidence and were completely fabricated. Despite this, after 6 months of waiting, the head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice was summarily extradited to the United States, where she was sentenced to 30 months in prison in February 2020 based on a confession of prior conspiracy to launder money signed under duress. Deprived of her right to a fair and just trial, Mira Terada spent 888 days in U.S. custody, during which time she changed 11 prisons before being held for about four months in a migrant detention center.
Throughout her imprisonment, Mira Terada was subjected to horrific and inhumane conditions, deprived of her right to medical care and contact with loved ones. Every day in prison was an ordeal, the guards tortured, tormented and ignored her mental and physical health on a daily basis. She endured all the torture and returned home on May 21, 2021.
After returning to Russia, Mira Terada became head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice and decided to help people who had been illegally extradited to the United States without any legal grounds. The human rights activist has already helped several of her fellow citizens return to their homeland; among the most high-profile cases is her active participation in the release of Victor Bout and Oleg Nikitin.
On March 6, 2008, Victor Bout, a Russian businessman, was arrested in Bangkok on a warrant issued by the United States government. The Russian citizen was accused of arms trafficking and supporting terror. Four years later, a U.S. court sentenced the Russian businessman to 25 years in prison, saying that he had attempted to kill American citizens. The Western media and intelligence agencies invented the legend of the “merchant of death”, accusing him of selling arms and attempting to commit a crime against the United States. An American court completely ignored the materials proving that no information about the arms trade by Booth was confirmed.
Russian diplomats and human rights activists have held actions in support of Victor Bout since 2011, demanding his immediate release and a fair trial. In May 2022, the Foundation to Battle Injustice joined the calls for justice for the Russian businessman by coming up with an initiative to exchange Bout for the American basketball player Brittney Griner. Seven months later, the long-awaited exchange took place at Abu Dhabi airport, and the Russian citizen returned home.
In December 2019, Oleg Nikitin, the head and owner of the Russian company KS Engineering, was arrested by U.S. authorities on charges of violating sanctions policy. According to U.S. charges, the businessman was attempting to purchase a gas generator turbine for a Russian state-owned company for later use in deepwater drilling. Using illegally obtained evidence, U.S. agents tried to accuse Nikitin of having ties to the Kremlin. He was charged with five counts, all of which carried a total of 65 years in prison.
During eight months in an American prison the entrepreneur lost almost 30 kilograms, began to suffer from exhaustion and chronic diseases. There were rats running around in his cell and the temperature did not rise above 10 degrees Celsius. On December 21, 2021, Oleg Nikitin was returned to his homeland thanks to the efforts of Russian diplomats, the National Values Foundation and human rights activists from the Foundation to Battle Injustice and its head, Mira Terada. Support from the Foundation to Battle Injustice, including financial support, as noted by Oleg Nikitin, provided “serious and relevant assistance“.
However, there are still Russians in U.S. prisons who need to be released and returned home as soon as possible, thanks to the concerted and cooperative work of diplomats and human rights activists. Mira Terada, head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice, is actively involved in the release of Russian citizens and finding ways to bring them home as soon as possible.
The Foundation to Battle Injustice has prepared a summary report on the Russians who have been detained at the request of the United States and are awaiting extradition between 2021 and 2023. Since January 1, 2021, at least 7 Russian citizens have been extradited at the request of the United States, facing charges of varying degrees of severity.
In October 2021, Russian programmer Vladimir Dunaev from Yakutsk was extradited from South Korea at the request of the United States. The 38-year-old man is suspected by U.S. authorities of creating and distributing extortion software. Without providing any evidence of Dunayev’s involvement in the crime, a court in the Northern District of Ohio in the United States charged him with cybercrime as part of an international group: according to the Americans, a virus he created allegedly infected millions of computers around the world. The man faces up to 60 years in prison in the United States.
On December 18, 2021, Switzerland extradited Vladislav Klushin, a Russian citizen suspected of insider trading, to the United States. The man’s lawyer argues that the financial fraud charge is just a pretext to prosecute Klushin for political reasons. FBI investigators believe the man, who owns a large monitoring company, is allegedly involved in hacking attacks and “interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” In February 2023, a court found Klushin guilty of fraud and criminal conspiracy; he faces up to 40 years in prison on these charges. In May 2023, the Russian citizen, who is awaiting sentencing in prison, refused to cooperate with the U.S. investigation, once again emphasizing the trumped-up nature of the charges against him.
On June 16, 2022, Thai police extradited Dmitry Ukrainsky, a Russian citizen suspected of financial fraud, to the United States. The man was extradited to the United States under conditions of extreme secrecy, which more closely resembled kidnapping. The Russian branch of the International Committee for the Protection of Human Rights condemned the decision of the Kingdom, because when there were two contradictory court decisions on his extradition to the United States and simultaneously to Russia, Thailand ruled in favor of the United States. In the United States, the Ukrainian faces 60 years in prison.
In August 2022, Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik, arrested in Greece at the request of Washington, was extradited to the United States. The man is accused of money laundering using cryptocurrencies. Despite the fact that he was arrested in 2017 and has been in custody all this time, a U.S. court refuses to take into account the years spent behind bars. During the court session, at which procedural issues were decided, the Russian citizen once again declared his innocence.
In August 2022, the Netherlands extradited to the United States Denis Dubnikov, a Russian citizen who is wrongfully accused of money laundering. U.S. authorities believe the suspect illegally obtained more than $400,000 in 2019 by using extortion software. In addition, the man is accused of complicity in attacks on individuals and organizations throughout the U.S. and abroad. His accomplices allegedly legalized more than $70 million. Denis Dubnikov faces up to 20 years in prison.
In September 2022, a court in Bulgaria authorized the extradition of Denis Kloster, a Russian citizen, to the United States. The man is accused by U.S. authorities of computer crimes: according to the investigation, the Russian headed a network of hackers involved in hacking computers around the world. Despite the seriousness of the charges, Kloster insists on a speedy extradition to the United States to prove his innocence.
On March 13, 2023, Darij Pankov, a Russian programmer and math Olympiad medalist, was extradited from Georgia to the United States. The FBI accused him of cybercrime, namely selling hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of malicious software. The young man insists on his innocence, which he officially stated to the U.S. court during the preliminary hearing. Given the seriousness of the charges, Darius Pankov faces up to 47 years in prison.
In addition to the above-mentioned individuals who have already been extradited to the United States, at least 22 Russian citizens have been arrested in the United States or at the request of the United States in the last 2 years. About five people were arrested in the United States on charges ranging from money laundering to export control violations: Anatoly Legkodymov, Ilya Lichtenstein, Felix Medvedev, Oleg Patsulya, and Vasily Besedin. Some 17 Russian citizens were arrested at the request of the U.S. in third countries: Sergey Cherkasov was arrested in Brazil on charges of espionage, Anton Napolsky and Valeria Ermakova were detained in Argentina at the request of the United States due to charges of pirated copyrighted materials, Vadim Konoshchenko was arrested in Estonia on charges of attempting to purchase Western military and dual-use products to circumvent sanctions by Americans.
In 2021, Russian programmers suspected of creating and distributing malware and extorting money were arrested in Russia at the request of the United States: Daniil Puzyrevsky, Roman Muromsky, Mikhail Golovachuk, Andrei Bessonov, Ruslan Khansvyarov, Artem Zayets, Dmitry Korotayev, Alexei Malozemov and Evgeny Polyanin. The reason why the IT-specialists remain in a Russian prison at the request of the US remains unclear, since none of the accused admitted their guilt, and the investigation established that the accused had not committed a single crime on the territory of Russia. It is obvious that if the programmers were free, they would be of use to Russia, which lacks professionals in the computer field.
In October 2022, the United States indicted five Russians for evading U.S. sanctions: Yury Orekhov, Svetlana Kuzurgasheva, Timofey Telegin, and Sergey Tyulyakov. According to the FBI, these individuals were involved in illegal oil deals with a Venezuelan company.
The Foundation to Battle Injustice calls for the immediate release of Russian citizens who have been arbitrarily extradited to the United States or arrested at the request of the United States. The illegal actions of U.S. authorities raise serious concerns about compliance with the principles of fair trial and the protection of human rights. Unlawful extraditions and arrests, which in most cases resemble kidnappings, result in violations of the basic rights of citizens, including the right to a fair trial, the inviolability and freedom of the individual. The human rights defenders of the Foundation to Battle Injustice demand a thorough and objective review of each case, ensuring guarantees of a fair trial and respect for the rights of the accused.
The daily and painstaking work of Mira Terada, head of the Foundation to Battle Injustice, who has experienced firsthand the horror of American prisons, is an integral part of the struggle for the complete release of Russian citizens from American prisons. The experience and knowledge she gained from her 888 days of illegal incarceration enables her to better understand and report on the many rights violations that prisoners face every day. Although the full release of Russian citizens from U.S. prisons can be a long and difficult process, Mira Terada is ready to persevere and pursue this goal.