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Moscow taking steps to free all crew members of Russian tanker seized in Libya

June 03, 11:27 UTC+3 ASTRAKHAN
The Russian-flagged Mekhanik Chebotarev tanker was captured in mid-September 2015 some 17 miles off Libya’s coast by the country’s authorities on suspicion of smuggling oil
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ASTRAKHAN, June 3. /TASS/. Three crew members of Russia’s Mekhanik Chebotarev tanker seized in Libya in September 2015 are in a satisfactory health condition, and Russia’s Foreign Ministry is making every effort to release them, a diplomat said on Friday.

"Russia’s Foreign Ministry is controlling the situation every day. The health state of the crew is satisfactory, they live in normal conditions on the territory of the Misrata port [in Libya]," said Oleg Kolomin, who heads Russia’s Foreign Ministry’s representative office in the southern city of Astrakhan.

Three Russians - the tanker’s captain and two crew members - are provided with everything they need, including medical and food supplies, and have been allowed to the vessel that they are maintaining in a "working condition," Kolomin said.

The diplomat said it is difficult to say now when the sailors will be released. "In Libya, a process of national reconciliation has started. There were two sides there earlier: the first one that seized the vessel and the second one recognized by the world. Now a new government is being formed in Libya and therefore the negotiating process has dragged," he said.

The Russian-flagged Mekhanik Chebotarev tanker was captured in mid-September 2015 some 17 miles off Libya’s coast by the country’s authorities on suspicion of smuggling oil. There were 12 crew members onboard, all of them Russian citizens and most of them from Astrakhan. The tanker is owned by the St. Petersburg-based Oil Marine Group. The owner said the tanker had no cargo onboard.

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