Russian Foreign Ministry Opposes Alleged BTC-e Operator’s Extradition to US

The entire court case involving Alexander Vinnik will drag on for quite some time to come. It seems the Russian government isn’t too pleased with the Greek court which approved his extradition to the US. After all, Vinnik is a Russian citizen. His extradition to the US will cause political friction, to put it mildly.

Alexander Vinnik Case Gets More Complicated

No one can deny the arrest of Alexander Vinnik has caused a lot of friction in the geopolitical landscape. A Russian national being apprehended in Greece and facing extradition to the United States creates a rather volatile political cocktail, to say the least. Now that a Greek court has ruled that Vinnik must be extradited to the US, the Russian government has publicly voiced its displeasure with the ruling, claiming it to be “unjust”. It remains to be seen whether the decision can and will be overturned, however.

Most readers will recall the reason for Vinnik’s arrest, as he was the alleged operator of the notorious BTC-e exchange. While that platform is now defunct – and half of its users’ money has been lost in the process – the company is resuming its services under the WEX brand. So far, there has been no evidence of Vinnik actually being the operator of BTC-e. Moreover, his role in the larger scheme of “laundering money and identity theft” also has yet to be determined.

While there is solid evidence of BTC-e laundering 95% of all global ransomware proceeds, it remains to be seen whether or not Vinnik was involved in this process at any point. There does not appear to be solid evidence to back up such claims, but one never knows what the future may hold. We do know Vinnik and his lawyers plan to fight the extradition verdict as early as next week, although their efforts may ultimately be in vain.

That being said, the involvement of the Russian foreign ministry may serve to complicate things considerably. For now, there is no indication that the Russian government’s involvement will go beyond the aforementioned statement, but its wording leaves very little to the imagination. While this verdict may appear unjust, it remains to be seen whether the Greek court will take it into consideration. Right now, that would seem to be rather unlikely.

A Russian foreign ministry spokesperson commented as follows:

“We consider that the verdict is unjust and violates the norms of international law. Greek authorities received a request from the Russian attorney general that Vinnik be extradited to Russia” which “should have priority, as Vinnik is a Russian citizen. Such a ruling is all the more surprising considering the context of friendly relations between Russia and Greece…we hope the relevant Greek authorities will take into account the request of the Russian attorney general (at appeal).”

It is expected the final decision regarding Vinnik’s extradition will be made by Greece’s justice minister in the next few days. It is evident there is some friction between Greece and Russia in this regard, as both countries have been at odds ever since Vinnik was arrested on July 25.  Rest assured this is not the last we will hear about his ongoing investigation, as Vinnik will remain a person of interest for quite some time to come.