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MOSCOW - Russia's State Duma, or the lower house of parliament, has no jurisdiction to defend third person at international courts, Dmitry Vyatkin, deputy head of the Duma Committee for Constitutional Legislation and State Construction said Thursday.

Vyatkin's comment was made after Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday in New York, called on the State Duma to file a lawsuit against the United States and Thailand.

"The Russian State Duma had no legal right to meet his request and this is not in our competence," Vyatkin was quoted as saying by the Itar-Tass news agency.

Also on Thursday, Foreign Policy Committee of the State Duma issued a statement in support of Bout, tying up his case to the prospects for a further maintenance of a strategic relationship between Russia and the United States.

Bout, known as "the Merchant of Death," was sentenced to 25 years in prison for attempting to sell weapons to Colombian terrorists who were targeting Americans. The judge also ordered a 15-million-US-dollar forfeiture.

Prosecutors said Bout was ready to sell up to 20 million dollars in weapons including surface-to-air missiles to shoot down US helicopters. US authorities also said that Bout has sold weapons to dictators and guerrilla forces in Africa, South America and the Middle East.

Bout was arrested in 2008 in Bangkok, Thailand, where he was caught in a sting operation led by the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Then he was extradited to the United States in 2010. ?

Moscow on Friday chided the United States for sentencing Bout to prison, calling the verdict biased and politically motivated.


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