Russia and US demand extradition of man arrested in Switzerland
Switzerland is facing a diplomatic crisis as both the United States of America and Russia have demanded the extradition of Wladislaw Kljuschin, a man with strong links to the Kremlin.
Russian millionaire arrested upon arrival in Switzerland
The Russian businessman was arrested in March after landing in Sion by private jet. His original intention was to go on holiday in Zermatt with his family. Swiss police detained him after the American authorities requested his arrest on the grounds of online fraud and conspiracy.
The millionaire is the owner of Russian company M13, an IT service that analyses media through its Katyusha programme. He is estimated to have received 17 million Swiss francs in orders last year, of which a quarter were from the Russian state. Kljuschin has described himself as "strategically important for the Russian government."
20 minuten called the situation the beginning of “Cold War 2021,” with Switzerland at its centre. The suspect remains in prison in Switzerland after a bail posting of 1,5 million Swiss francs was rejected.
Russian demand for extradition has been rejected
Kljuschin is accused of acquiring millions of Swiss francs worth of Tesla and IBM stock through criminal activity. The Americans now want Kljuschin extradited to the US so that he can face trial for his actions. His arrest coincides with multiple cyber attacks on international companies over the last year, which the US government blames on Russian companies and the Russian state. The American request for extradition was submitted in April and is still being reviewed.
Upon his arrest, the Russian government immediately demanded that Kljuschin be extradited back to Russia. They claimed that the businessman was already on trial and could be facing up to 10 years in prison should he return. The Swiss government has rejected the Russian request.
Switzerland's reputation as a mediator threatened
Kljuschin himself has been buoyant in his assessment, as he claimed that he would be able to get away with just a five-year sentence in the US, although he still would prefer a return to Russia. The Federal Department of Justice has declined to comment on the case.
Switzerland is a popular place to hold joint US and Russian summits, with US president Joe Biden meeting president Vladimir Putin in Geneva last June. The Tages-Anzeiger reports that if Switzerland were to choose a “side” in this dispute, it may jeopardise Switzerland’s ability to be a mediator between the superpowers.