Kremlin claims US is withholding information about a Russian man arrested on a US Pacific island

A Russian man has been arrested in a US territory in the Pacific Ocean and transferred to the US state of Florida, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The man, Dmitry Viktorovich Makarenko, was arrested on December 29 on the main island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands, the ministry said Saturday in a statement.

“He was detained by the FBI at the airport immediately after arrival,” the statement said. “At the same time, the Russian Embassy in Washington learned about what happened to him not from the American law enforcement agencies, but from his relatives.

“The US authorities — in violation of the bilateral Consular Convention — have not notified about the fact of our citizen’s detention in the proper three-day period. It’s not the first time this happens. The United States neglect of its international obligations has become the norm.”

US court documents show that a defendant named Dmitrii Makarenko, also known as Dmitryi, was detained on December 29 in the Northern Mariana Islands on suspicion of conspiracy to export defense articles without a license, attempting to export defense articles without a license, and money laundering.

An indictment against Makarenko on those counts was returned June 15, 2017, by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Florida, and an arrest warrant was subsequently issued.

A document filed by the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands on December 31 requests Makarenko’s transfer to the Southern District of Florida.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said its embassy in the United States has continued to seek consular access to Makarenko, now believed to be in Florida. Access should have been granted before January 2 under the Consular Convention, it said.

“We demand that Washington clarify the reasons for the arrest and the full respect of the rights of a Russian citizen,” it added.

The US State Department and the FBI did not immediately respond to CNN’s requests for comment.

Dispute comes amid espionage claims

Makarenko’s detention comes at a time of frayed relations between Moscow and Washington amid claims of espionage from both sides.

A US citizen, Paul Whelan, was arrested in Moscow last week on suspicion of carrying out an act of espionage, according to his lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov. His family rejects the accusation, asserting he was in Russia only for a vacation.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told RIA Novosti on Saturday that no formal charges have been brought against Whelan.

Whelan’s lawyer said Thursday that he had filed a court appeal against Whelan’s detention without bail, which he called unwarranted and excessive.

Whelan’s arrest came 15 days after alleged Russian spy Maria Butina pleaded guilty in US federal court to trying to infiltrate political circles and influence US relations with Russia.

Former US national security officials have speculated to CNN that the arrest of Whelan, spy or not, could be Russian government retaliation for Butina’s prosecution.

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