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Russia Puzzled by Adamov Extradition Order; Attorneys Vow to Appeal

Russian officials say they are disappointed by Switzerland's recent decision to extradite former Russian Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov to the United States to face embezzlement charges. Mr. Adamov has spent the past five months in a Swiss jail, accused of embezzling $9 million - money that was supposed to be spent to make Russian nuclear plants safer.

Officials with Switzerland's Federal Justice Agency have made the decision to extradite Mr. Adamov to the United States, but that does not mean the struggle surrounding him is over.

Mr. Adamov's lawyers have since notified Swiss authorities that they will protest the decision in Switzerland's Supreme Court. But Yuriy Fyodorov, a professor at Moscow's State Institute of International relations, says the appeal will likely change little.

Mr. Fyodorov says the Russians may protest and appeal all they like. But he says the fact is this is a criminal, not a political case and that he thinks Switzerland will bow to the rule of law, not to Russia.

His view is not shared by Russia's Foreign Ministry, which Wednesday summoned the temporary Swiss envoy to Russia in order to deliver an official note of protest. That note, and a foreign ministry statement released in Moscow several hours later, said simply: "We find the decision, puzzling and unjust."

Speculation has been rife in Moscow that the United States might be seeking to win Mr. Adamov's extradition from Switzerland in order to learn classified information about Russia's nuclear cooperation with other countries.

Former Senator Sam Nunn, speaking in Moscow Wednesday at a board meeting of the U.S.-Russian Nuclear Threat Initiative, tried to put that concern to rest.

"As I understand this matter, it is a criminal matter, it is not an intelligence matter," noted Senator Nunn. "That ought to be made absolutely clear. Mr. Adamov, like any citizen, if he does go to the United States, if he is extradited, in my view, the U.S. government should make absolutely certain that the Russian government, Russian Embassy, Russian attorneys are able to have total access to him."

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Kislyak, has said Mr. Adamov will be afforded all necessary legal aid from Russia, if he is extradited to the United States to stand trial.

Meanwhile, Russia's Interfax news agency reports that in the past 24 hours, U.S. attorneys have arrived in Moscow to discuss the Adamov case with representatives of the Russian Prosecutor General's office.

The case is raising serious concerns among Russia's political elite, who often feel their views are ignored on the world stage. It is also causing analysts to wonder what, if any, political fall-out might be expected in the U.S.-Russian relationship, which one leading analyst recently described to VOA as being at its worst point since the Cold War.