RF charge d’affairs to sign letters on sailors’ release – FM

ITAR-TASS News Agency
TASS
August 8, 2005 Monday

RF charge d’affairs to sign letters on sailors’ release – FM

By Yelena Volkova

MOSCOW

Russian charge d’affairs to Nigeria Vladimir Fedotov will sign
letters on releasing Russian sailors on bail, Foreign Ministry deputy
spokesman Boris Malakhov said.

Malakhov told Itar-Tass on Monday, “As the ambassador is absent the
charge d’affairs can do this. This is ordinary practice.”

In his words, “documents will be signed on the release of a Georgian
sailor because at Tbilisi’s request the Russian Foreign Ministry
assumes responsibility for his fate.”

“It’s unknown when sailors are released and transported to the
Russian trade mission in Nigeria. But there are no doubts that
sailors will leave for the mission just after their release,” the
Russian diplomat said.

The release of Russian sailors from a Nigerian prison on bail is
largely a result of collective efforts by diplomats and political and
public figures, UNESCO’s goodwill ambassador Ara Abramian told
Itar-Tass on Thursday.

“I was very glad to hear the news about the Nigerian court’s decision
to release our sailors against the Russian embassy’s guarantees. That
success is a product of our joint efforts,” he said.

As UNESCO’s goodwill ambassador took an active part in the
humanitarian campaign for easing the plight of Russian sailors kept
in a tight security prison in Nigeria.

The African pride oil tanker belonging to a Greek company, whose crew
included fifteen Russian sailors, was detained in the autumn of 2003
in neutral waters off Nigeria on the suspicion of oil smuggling. The
tanker’s crew was arrested.

There have been repeated calls on the Nigerian leadership for easing
the Russian sailors’ conditions from the Patriarch of Moscow and all
Russia, Alexy II, State Duma members and the Russian Foreign
Ministry.

State Duma international affairs committee Konstantin Kosachyov said
last month, “We have approached UNESCO’s goodwill ambassador Ara
Abramian, with whom we have a good relationship, with a request for
joining the efforts to settle the situation,” Kosachyov said. “He
readily agreed.”

Abramian then told the media that as UNESCO’s goodwill ambassador he
was prepared for taking part in the humanitarian action to help ease
the conditions of Russian sailors, but that was a very delicate
matter. He explained that he would be able to work for a solution, if
there was a formal request from the Russian Foreign Ministry and the
mandate for using his international contacts for negotiations with
the Nigerian leadership.

“This is precisely the line of action we chose to follow with the
Armenian government to secure the release of Armenian pilots from
jail in Equatorial Guinea,” Abramian said.

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