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MOSCOW, January 10 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow is seriously concerned about delaying the investigation into the death of Russian pilots in South Sudan on December 21, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Thursday.
“The Russian Foreign Ministry is seriously concerned about delaying the investigation into the death of four Russian citizens – crewmembers of the civil Mi-8 helicopter, which was shot down in South Sudan on December 21, 2012. The Russian crewmembers performed a contract in South Sudan,” the Russian diplomat stressed.
Moscow states that the commission, which has been created with the participation of Nizhnevartovskavia and the U.N. Aviation Security Service, cannot start working up to the present day on the default of South Sudanese experts, he said.
“For the same reason Russia has not been given the helicopter’s black box,” Lukashevich added.
Russia hopes that “in compliance with the U.N. claims on the immediate and thorough investigation into the causes of the crash, bringing to responsibility of guilty persons and taking necessary measures to prevent such accidents South Sudan will take operative steps towards making the investigation into the death of Russian citizens full, objective and operative”, Lukashevich pointed out.
The helicopter Mi-8 with the Russian crew was hit down on December 21 near Likuangole, state Jonglei, in the Republic of South Sudan as a result of gunfire from the ground. The helicopter belonged to the air company Nizhnevartovskavia and worked under the contract with the U.N. Mission in South Sudan.
The U.N. Mission rescue detachment confirmed the death of Russian citizens – Sergei Ilyin (commander), Alfir Abrarov (second pilot), Sergei Yegorov (engineer) and Nikolai Shpanov (radio-steward).
According to earlier reports, the South Sudanese authorities recognised that the helicopter had been shot down by the armed forces despite the fact that “the local command was informed on the flight by the U.N. Mission. Moreover, the helicopter had the distinguishing signs”.