A Russian court has handed a suspended one-year jail sentence to two Cubans for attempting to illegally cross the Russian border into Alaska two years ago, regional officials announced.
Russian prosecutors said the two Cubans, who did not have valid U.S. immigration documents, tried to enter the Alaskan island of Little Diomede from Russia’s Chukotka autonomous district in September 2016. During the World Cup, asylum seekers in several cases had attempted to enter Europe through Russia’s borders.
“In Chukotka, they offered one of the local residents an award of 1,000 euros and $800 to transport them to the foreign country on a small vessel,” the regional prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Wednesday.
Prosecutors said that instead of helping the Cubans reach Alaska, the resident turned them over to Russian border security officers.
Cuban citizens traditionally migrate to the U.S. without documents through Florida, often by a life-threatening journey by sea on inflatable rafts.
The migrants caught in Russia will face six months of probation after they serve their sentence.