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Several Russians still held by Libyan group — Lavrov

December 09, 2015, 17:10 UTC+3 MOSCOW

According to the Russian foreign minister, there are still many groups in Libya that are not subordinate to Tobruk or Tripoli

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

© Artiom Geodakyan/TASS

MOSCOW, December 9. /TASS/. One of Libyan groups still holds several Russians, and Moscow will make efforts for their release, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with Italian media on Wednesday.

"Now there is the government and parliament in Tobruk, which are recognised as legitimate by the United Nation. There is also the government and parliament in Tripoli, which are not recognised by the international community. However, the international community represented by the UN Security Council supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy who is now trying to develop understanding between these two centres of power in Libya," the minister said.

However, "these are not the only two centres of power," he added. "There are still many groups there that are not subordinate to Tobruk or Tripoli. One of these groups still holds Russian citizens," Lavrov said. "We managed to release some of them 1.5 years ago. Now our aim is to have the other few Russians released".

Libya slid into chaos following the 2011 toppling of Muammar Gaddafi. The oil-rich country has been torn between an internationally recognised government in the east and an Islamist-backed government in the capital, Tripoli. The UN's unity government deal, which is aimed at ending the conflict, was drafted by its former envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, who accepted a job last month from the United Arab Emirates. The country backs some members of the internationally recognised government, casting doubts on the international body's neutrality.

Libya's chaos has opened the door to a surge of migrants and refugees who set off from its coast for Europe in often rickety boats operated by smugglers. Many have died on the journey.

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