Idea of support fund for Russians jailed abroad backed by Foreign Ministry

Russia's Foreign Ministry has expressed support for an initiative by Alla Bout, wife of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to a long prison term in the United States, to set up a support fund for Russians who have been arrested or imprisoned abroad.

"On a preliminary basis, since we don't yet have concrete information about her plans, we would like to say that we support the idea of setting up such a fund," ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement posted on the ministry's Web site.

"Naturally, regardless of when the fund that is being set up by Alla Bout will materialize, Russian nationals who get into trouble will always receive maximum support from embassies and consular institutions," he said.

"Unfortunately, recently we have much too often been witnesses to Russians being prosecuted on patently artificial charges, and with disregard for proper legal procedures as well; there have been well-known instances where foreign 'law enforcers' effectively abducted our fellow citizens. In such situations, Russian nationals who are under arrest badly need high-standard professional legal assistance, and this is, the way we see it, what the proposed fund will focus on. In our view, it will be able to efficiently complement the current support and rights defense fund for Russians who are permanently resident abroad," Lukashevich said.

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