23 Dec 2019 20:01

Court fines ex-counselor of Russian embassy to U.S. for illegal issuance of passports, exempts from punishment for expiration of statute of limitations

MOSCOW. Dec 23 (Interfax) - Moscow's Kuntsevsky District Court has fined Oleg Divanov, former first secretary and counselor of the Russian embassy to the United States, 200,000 rubles for the illegal issuance of two Russian passports and exempted him from punishment due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, an Interfax correspondent reported.

"The court rules to fine Divanov 200,000 rubles and to exempt Divanov from punishment due to the expiration of the statute of limitations," Judge Svetlana Ukhnalyova said in her ruling.

The judgment found Divanov guilty of inappropriately performing his duties due to a negligent attitude to his service, which led to the illegal issuance of Russian passports.

The investigation concluded that two U.S. attorneys, Yevgeny Meltser from Chicago and Katerina Kurbatova practicing in Atlanta, had Russian passports issued in their names in violation of established procedure thanks to Divanov's facilitation in the summer of 2016.

Meltser's passport never reached him, as Federal Security Service (FSB) officers discovered its illegal issuance beforehand. Kurbatova received her passport and later refused to return it.

The investigation found that the passports were issued based on forged letters from the Federal Migration Service and Interior Ministry departments for the Novosibirsk region purporting to verify Meltser's and Kurbatova's Russian citizenship. The court, however, declined the prosecution's premise that it was Divanov who forged the letters.

Divanov, a suspended official of the Russian Foreign Ministry, has not admitted any wrongdoing. His defense insisted that, apart from him, other persons had access to his official computer and could have committed the crimes with which he was charged.

The prosecution asked the court to give Divanov a suspended sentence of four years. The defense sought his acquittal.