Russian pilots Vladimir Sadovnichy and his Estonian counterpart Alexei Rudenko were released from court in Tajikistan, Russia 24 TV channel reported. Tajikistan's Khatlon province prosecutor Azim Azimov asked for their release.
On Nov.17, 2011, Tajikistan's Defence Minister Sherali Khairulloyev held a meeting with his counterpart the Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov where he said he had received instructions from Tajik President Emomali Rahmon to address the release of Sadovnichy and Rudenko, RBK reported.
Recently relations between Russia and Tajikistan deteriorated after the Tajikistan court sentenced the Russian and Estonian pilots earlier this month to eight and a half years in prison, finding them guilty of smuggling, illegal border crossing and violating flight rules. The two AN-72 aircraft flown by the pilots were confiscated by the Tajik authorities.
Head of the Russian Federal service on customers' rights protection and human well-being surveillance Gennady Onishchenko proposed a complete ban on entry of Tajik workers to Russia, citing the incidence of migrants' high disease levels..
There are rumours that the Russian government amid a political scandal may introduce a visa regime with Tajikistan. The 'Fair Russia' Party Faction in Duma sent the relevant request to President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.