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War of words breaks out between the US and Italy over a sanctioned Russian who fled house arrest

A political crisis in Rome resulted from a Russian accused of breaking sanctions evading house arrest in Italy and being smuggled back to Russia.

Artem Uss, 40, was picked up near his Milan home in a fleet of four identical automobiles that split apart to avoid being pursued on March 22 after removing an electronic monitoring bracelet.

Before arriving in Russia, he is believed to have traveled through Slovenia and Serbia. His father, the governor of the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, congratulated President Putin for his son's return.

The Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, referred to the escape as "grave" and placed the blame on the Milan court's "debatable" decision to order Uss to home arrest.

She further claimed that US intelligence failed to inform Italy of its potential role in delivering US military technology to the Ukrainian front lines. "We knew about the request from the US justice department, but that was linked to a question of fiscal fraud," she added.

However, a Milan court has blamed Italy's justice minister, Carlo Nordio, for failing to forward the US request to keep Uss in jail. The minister had the legal authority to overturn the court's decision, the court added.

Uss said that "strong and reliable" people had helped him leave Italy as allegations of him being helped by a group of Eastern Europeans surfaced.

Uss was first detained in October after landing in Milan and was being held on an extradition demand from the US due to allegations that he had sent US military equipment to Russia for use in Ukraine. Additionally, he is charged with bank fraud and violating sanctions by transporting oil from Venezuela to Russian oligarchs.

He spent 40 days in prison in Italy before being placed under home arrest, despite appeals from the US to keep him behind bars due to his "very high flight risk."

The US also reminded Italy that while their extradition requests were still pending, six individuals had escaped from house imprisonment in Italy in the previous three years.

Uss was said to have been relocated to a home he owned close to Milan and permitted to maintain his mobile phones and interact with Russian diplomats. The day after Italy granted his plea for extradition, he vanished.

"Who is responsible for the embarrassing escape of Artem Uss?" questioned Angelo Bonelli, the leader of the Italian Green Party.

"Nordio must inform parliament because it is unacceptable that, as the country and the international community watches, no one is taking responsibility for what happened," he continued.



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