- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2007

NEW YORK — U.S. authorities today arrested a U.N. translator and two other persons on charges of running an extravagant scheme to sell U.S. visas, mostly to Russian and Uzbek nationals.

Vyacheslav Manokhin, a relatively low-ranking U.N. staffer, was accused of providing requests on U.N. letterhead for U.S. visas to allow aliens to attend U.N. conferences that didn’t exist or that the visitors did not attend.

The scheme had apparently been in operation for years.

Manokhin used his position at the U.N. to make it appear as though the U.N. supported the visa applications, so that the aliens could enter the United States, purportedly to participate in conferences organized by non-government organizations, by the U.N. or by entities associated with the U.N.,” according to a statement issued yesterday by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“In most instances, the alien was successful in obtaining a visa and entering the United States.”

A man named Kamiljan Tursunov, who was arrested by Immigration and Customs on July 25 for failing to appear at an immigration proceeding, admitted to paying $15,000 to an associate in Uzbekistan for the false letter of invitation, according to the charging documents.

Mr. Tursunov told authorities that he had moved to Florida instead, and had been living there for more than two years.

Mr. Manokhin, until today a Russian translator specializing in disarmament and decolonization issues for the U.N. General Assembly, admitted he sent the letters out under the name of a fictitious official of the U.N. Development Program, which has offices in 150 countries around the world.

The charging documents say he provided his own phone number at the United Nations and posed as an assistant to the fictitious UNDP official when asked about the visa applications.

A third man, identified as Vladimir Derevianko, is accused of participating in the scheme. The charging documents say it was at Mr. Derevianko’s request that Mr. Tursonov prepared the false letters.

The documents say Mr. Derevianko faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and the other two face up to five years. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has already lifted Mr. Manokhin’s diplomatic immunity.

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