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Tomsk traveler Zhuravlev returns home after three years in Syrian militants’ captivity

October 15, 2016, 4:47 updated at: October 15, 2016, 7:47 UTC+3 TOMSK

Zhuravlev was met in the airport of the city of Tomsk by his close ones and friends

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© Региональное информационное агентство "Томск"

TOMSK, October 15. /TASS/. Russian traveler Konstantin Zhuravlev, who was kidnapped in Syria three years ago, has returned home, a TASS correspondent reported.

Zhuravlev was met in the airport of the west Siberian city of Tomsk by his close ones and friends.

"Everything is fine with me. I was treated in a good way, no beating, nothing of the kind," he told journalists in the airport.

A Russian national, Konstantin Zhuravlev, "was kidnapped in the north of Syria by an armed group in October 2013, as he was traveling the world, and was held there by force for three years," the public relations center of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) said Friday.

Zhuravlev was turned over to his relatives after the Federal Security Service completed all the necessary procedures.

Zhuravlev went missing in Syria near the city of Aleppo as he was hitchhiking from Turkey to the Sahara across Syria, where he planned to spend several weeks as part of his project called "Alone with the Desert." Gunmen from the Islamist group, Liwa al-Tawhid, accused him of spying for the government in Damascus.

An officer of the Syrian security service earlier told TASS that Zhuravlev had crossed into Syria without official reasons, which is a crime punishable by imprisonment. In this case, the Syrian government couldn’t bear any responsibility for the Russian national, he said. However, the official authorities in Damascus then pledged to make every effort to free the Russian national.

After Zhuravlev was captured, his relatives turned to law enforcement officials and criminal proceedings were launched in Russia under Part 3 of Article 126 of the Russian Criminal Code "Abduction of a person by an organized group".

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed gratitude to those who provided assistance in freeing Zhuravlev.

"As a result of long targeted work through different channels, Russian national Konstantin Zhuravlev, born in 1981, was set free after being kidnapped in Syria in 2013," the Foreign Ministry said. On October 14, he met with the relatives," it said.

"We are grateful to all who contributed to freeing Konstantin Zhuravlev. The Foreign Ministry of Russia continues giving priority attention to protection of legitimate rights and interests of Russian nationals abroad," it said.

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