A Russian national detained in Armenia late last week was allowed to return to Moscow on Wednesday, avoiding extradition to the United States where he is wanted on charges of money laundering and illegal arms trade.
Sergey Mironov was detained by the Armenian police when he arrived at Yerevan’s Zvartnots international airport with his wife on Friday. The police said U.S. law-enforcement authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Mironov in May.
The 30-year-old engineer working for a Russian information technology (IT) company was set free on Monday after an Armenian court refused to allow law-enforcement authorities to keep him under arrest pending a decision on his extradition. His lawyers said immediately after the court ruling that Mironov cannot leave Armenia for the time being.
But they told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) on Tuesday that the ruling does not bar their client from returning home. Armenia’s Office of the Prosecutor-General did not deny this, saying that it is up to the court to decide whether the Russian must remain in Armenia.
Law-enforcement officers at Zvartnots did not stop Mironov from a boarding a plane that flew him back to Moscow the following day.
Mironov praised Armenian law-enforcement authorities on his arrival at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport. “In effect, they treated me like a guest,” the RIA Novosti news agency quoted him as telling reporters.
One of his lawyers, Karen Nersisian, said on Tuesday that U.S. authorities have not yet presented the Armenian side with any evidence of money laundering or illegal transfer of military technology from the U.S allegedly committed by Mironov. Nersisian insisted that the latter is facing prosecution in the U.S. for an attempted online purchase of a night-vision device worth $50,000.
The lawyer also alleged that the U.S. authorities are keen to arrest Mironov only because he “knows an awful lot” about electronic security systems of Russia’s railways and Moscow’s subway network.
The U.S. Embassy in Yerevan has refused to comment on the case.