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Syrian hijackers demand ransom for release of Russians

Sergei Lavrov said that Russia was undertaking all the necessary measures in Syria and other countries for the men’s release.

Source : English.ruvr. / 18 Dec 2012

The abductors of two Russians and an Italian in Syria have demanded a ransom for their release, news reports said on Tuesday. Earlier today, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow is dealing with the problem and that all necessary steps are being taken in Syria and other countries that may influence the situation.

The Russian Foreign Ministry identified those kidnapped as V. Gorelov and Abdesattar Hassun of Russia and Mario Belluomo of Italy. The three work for the Hmisho private steel company, Sergey Markov, press attaché of the Russian Embassy in Damascus, told the Voice of Russia on Tuesday. According to him, the company has received a telephone demand from unidentified individuals for payment as a condition for the abductees’ release.

"The three men were abducted as they were travelling along the Tartus-Homs highway on Monday. Right now, steps are being taken to identify their location and secure their release, Markov says, referring to the close cooperation on the matter between Russian diplomats and Syrian authorities."

In an interview with the Voice of Russia broadcast on Tuesday, Mikhail Fedotov, the head of Russia’s presidential council on human rights, said that the council is concerned over the situation with the Russian citizens in Syria.

"We consider as unacceptable the situation when Russian citizens are detained and abducted in Syria and when ransom is demanded for their release. This runs counter to norms of international law and basic moral norms. We call on all those who communicate with the abductors to make them stop their outrageous actions. We demand an immediate release of all the hostages, including Ukrainian journalist Anhar Kochneva, who was collaborating with several Russian media outlets."

Earlier this year, she was kidnapped by militants from the Free Syrian Army, who published an ultimatum to demand a 50-million-dollar ransom in exchange for Kochneva’s life. Although the ultimatum deadline reportedly expired on December 13, negotiations on her release are still under way, according to the latest information.

In a statement last week, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it is looking at a possible evacuation of Russian citizens from Syria, but that the “moment hasn't come yet.”

Some media outlets reported on Tuesday that if the government finally decides to evacuate Russians from Syria, it could be done by vessels escorted by the Russian navy or by government planes.

Right now, warships from the Russian Baltic Fleet are reportedly on their way to Syria.


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