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Three Russian sailors arrested in Libya for fuel smuggling in 2015 have been released just 24 hours after a visit by Russian MPs with Presidency Council head Ahmed Maetig yesterday in Tripoli.
The sailors— Andrei Krynin, Stanislav Sirotkin and Valery Savitsky—were accused of fuel smuggling when their tanker was seized off Zuwara, Libya in September 2015. They were returned to Russia yesterday to their hometown of Grozny, Chechnya.
One man spearheading the campaign to release the sailors, and who was part of this week’s delegation to Libya, was Chechen politician Adam Delimkhanov, who is cousin to Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov. Delimkhanov has visited Tripoli on multiple occasions advocating for the release of the sailors.
While one Libyan Ministry of Justice source said that the release came after the sailors were found not guilty days ago, another source claimed that the trial didn’t actually begin until after the meeting with Ahmed Maetig took place yesterday, and that it is unclear what the speedy court’s findings were, other than they were released.
Sadiq Al-Sour, head of the Public Prosecutor’s office declined to comment.
Moscow said that it was grateful to everyone who had helped to secure the release of Andrei Krynin, Stanislav Sirotkin and Valery Savitsky.
Three more Russians, captain Vladimir Tekuchev, chief officer Samoilov and senior engineer Pashchenko remain in Libyan custody after their arrest this June of the oil/chemical tanker Temeteron, again on suspicion of fuel smuggling. The foreign ministry in Moscow is now demanding the release of these three Russians as well.
The remaining sailors are being held with other members of the multinational crew. “All possible measures have been taken to secure their release, which is difficult due to the military and political tensions that have persisted in Libya for the past several years and the lack of central control over several regions,” read a Tuesday foreign ministry statement.
It is unclear what has happened to the two tankers involved in the smuggling.
By Moutaz Ali for Oilprice.com
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Moutaz Ali is a freelance journalist based in Tripoli.