Putin calls Italy's arrest of Russian executive at US request 'really bad practice'
Iran Press TV
Fri Sep 6, 2019 06:52AM
Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the detention of a top executive of Russia's aircraft-engine maker in Italy, which came at the request of the US on charges of espionage.
Alexander Korshunov, director for business development at Russia's United Engine Corporation (UEC), was detained at an airport in Naples last week, after the US issued a warrant for his arrest, according to Russian Foreign Ministry.
The US Justice Department on Thursday unsealed a criminal complaint accusing the Russian national of conspiring and attempting to steal trade secrets from Ohio-based GE Aviation.
"Conspiring to and attempting to steal trade secrets is punishable by up to 10 years in prison," said the department,
Putin, who described the arrest as a "really bad practice," said on Thursday that the move would further harm relations with Untied States.
"In this case we're dealing with attempts at dishonest competition," said the president.
He said that the Russian company had developed a new engine and concluded a contract with an Italian consulting firm.
"It's a normal global practice. It's open commercial work with European partners," Putin added.
The Russian president has repeatedly criticized Washington for requesting that Russian citizens be detained in third countries.
Earlier this year, Georgia extradited Oleg Tishchenko, a software developer, to the US over accusation of smuggling F-16 fighter jet manuals into Russia.
The Kremlin protested the extradition at the time, saying: "There are signs in this case of a provocation by the US intelligence services."
Relations between the US and Russia remained near a post-Cold War, but ties between Moscow and Rome "have a huge potential, which [the countries] should develop day by day for the sake of tomorrow, security, well-being and equality," according to president Putin who paid a one-day visit to Italy in June.
In Rome, Putin also urged Italian Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, to help improve a "mutually respectful relationship" between Moscow and the European Union (EU).
The president said he hopes Italy will explain to Brussels the damage that has been caused by economic sanctions imposed by the EU and the US against Russia, which he described as "losses for all."
At the time of the visit, Putin also told the Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, that the two "have a special relationship, tested by time."
Italy, an EU founding member, has previously expressed opposition to the automatic extension of several rounds of sanctions against Moscow.
Relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated since 2014, when the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea rejoined Russia following a referendum, where more than 90 percent of participants voted in favor of the move. The West brands the reunification as annexation of Ukrainian land by Russia.
In siding with Ukraine, the EU, and some other Western countries have followed Washington's lead in leveling several rounds of sanctions against Moscow.
On the other hand, Russia's deepening of the alliance with China has prompted concern in the US, which has announced measures to counter their influence in the world.
Earlier in May, the US Defense Department released a report, saying Beijing was planning to add military bases around the world to protect its investments in its trillion-dollar project, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
It said that China, which currently has just one overseas military base in Djibouti, is believed to be planning others, including possibly in Pakistan, as it seeks to project itself as a global superpower.
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