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Arrests and Legal Disputes

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Russian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs in Russia are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.  Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.  

If detained, arrested, or involved in a dispute with Russian authorities, American citizens should request the authorities to notify the Embassy or nearest Consulate General.  The Embassy can help protect your legitimate interests and ensure you are not discriminated against.  Should you be detained, the Embassy can provide an Attorneys List, visit you, and, if you choose, contact your friends and relatives on your behalf.  We can also transfer money, food, and clothing to prison authorities from your family or friends.  Please keep in mind that while our intervention may help, it can take time; ultimately only Russian officials have the authority to resolve a dispute in Russia.  The Embassy cannot arrange for your release from detention, act as your attorney, or provide funds to hire an attorney. 

For more information on consular assistance for Americans arrested or imprisoned overseas, please refer to the Department of State's webpage on Assistance to U.S. Citizens Arrested Abroad.

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