MOSCOW, May 28 (Itar-Tass) — Russian bikers detained in Iraq will arrive in Moscow on Monday evening, the Foreign Ministry reported.
“Today, on May 28, Russian bikers left Iraq. They will arrive in Moscow from Istanbul approximately at 8 p.m. Moscow time,” the ministry said.
“In the last two days bikers have stayed on the territory of the Russian Embassy in Iraq where they have been created conditions for accommodation, the rest and communication with relatives and friends,” the ministry said.
Four motorcyclists from St. Petersburg, Moscow and Tula were detained in Iraq on May 20. They were released on Friday, May 25.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov explained that as bikers had no legal Iraqi visas, the Iraqi authorities insisted they leave the country only with valid exit documents. “Today and tomorrow were days off like as in all Muslim countries. Tomorrow our diplomats jointly with bikers will go to corresponding Iraqi agencies in order to get the exit Iraqi visa. Tomorrow they should fill in passports and leave for home by the nearest flight,” the Russian minister stressed.
In his words, bikes have been returned and they are currently on the territory of the Russian Embassy.
Earlier this week, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Russian bikers detained in Iraq have no valid visas.
“A group of bikers [four people] entered Iraq via Turkey without visas valid for the entry to the country. The group was detained at Kirkuk by military patrol. After the Russian Embassy interfered, Russian citizens were released,” Lukashevich said.
However, the diplomat noted that Russians ignored the embassy’s recommendation on the need to get valid Iraqi visas and continue their trip to Baghdad. “On their way to Baghdad they were detained again by military patrol and placed to a military base for checking purposes. We took measures and filed a note to clarify the fate of Russians and contribute to their release,” the spokesman stressed.
Lukashevich pointed out that this issue had been discussed at the meeting between the Russian ambassador and the Iraqi president on May 22. During the meeting, the Russian ambassador requested the Iraqi leader to contribute to the soonest release of Russian citizens. “According to latest data, Russian bikers were under arrest on May 24. In order to resolve the situation we filed another note to demand the release of our citizens,” he said.
The diplomat reiterated that the ministry recommended Russian citizens to refrain from trips to Iraq.