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US: Russian diplomats cheated health care program

By By LARRY NEUMEISTER and TOM HAYS

NEW YORK (AP) — Russia's deputy foreign minister says the Russian government is "bewildered" that U.S. authorities would announce criminal charges against Russian diplomats and their wives without reaching out through diplomatic channels first.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (Ryab-KOFF') made the remarks carried by the Interfax news agency on Thursday after charges were announced in New York City against 49 current and former Russian diplomats and their wives.

Federal prosecutors said the diplomats and their wives dramatically understated their incomes to qualify for Medicaid assistance. They said the medical expenses helped pay for the delivery of all but five of the 63 babies born to the diplomats and their wives during from 2004 to this year.

Authorities say the Russians spent lavishly on vacations, jewelry and electronics while they claimed poverty.

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