Yesterday the Russian Foreign Ministry pitched a fit over a Lithuanian court decision permitting the United States to extradite a Russian citizen alleged to have broken U.S. export laws. The case involves Dmitry Ustinov, a 46-year-old Russian, who is alleged to have caused the unlicensed export of “hundreds of thousands” of military items from the United States.
Ustinov was nabbed during a trip he made to Vilnius to meet with a buyer interested in purchasing military night vision. Chances are quite good, of course, that the buyer was a U.S. agent. Since the U.S. and Russia do not have an extradition treaty (see, e.g., Edward Snowden), the U.S. would have had to lure Ustinov out of Russia to a friendly state. It doesn’t hurt that Lithuanians generally do not have warm and fuzzy feelings about their former Russian/Soviet overlords.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s beef was that the U.S. extradition of Ustinov
“brusquely ignores the corresponding legal procedure,” including a 1999 treaty in which Russia and the United States promised to cooperate on criminal cases
That reference to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between Russia and the United States is a bit puzzling. Like other MLATs, the treaty provides that the parties shall assist each other in the investigation of criminal activity that constitute crimes in both states. Assuming that the unlicensed night vision exports were crimes in Russia, the type of cooperation envisaged by the treaty involves the production of documents, the seizure of the proceeds of criminal activitiy, the identification and location of persons and things, and the execution of search and seizure requests. Nothing in the treaty, by any stretch of the imagination, requires one party to obtain the consent or cooperation of the other in the extradition of their citizens from third countries.