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66 Russian women still jailed in Iraq for various offences — Lavrov

The Russian Foreign Ministry continues its work to return Russians to their homeland

MOSCOW, July 17. /TASS/. Russia closely follows the cases of 66 Russian women, who had been taken to Iraqi prisons for various violations of the country's law, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Argumenty i Fakty daily.

"So far, we managed to return 90 children to their homeland. According to our information, about 30 of them still remain in Iraq, and we expect to take them home in the coming months," Lavrov said. "Regretfully, the cases of their mothers are more difficult to handle. All of them were convicted for violating the Iraqi laws: trespassing the border, illegally staying in the country, participating in terrorist activities. 66 Russian citizens are imprisoned. The Russian embassy in Baghdad follows the situation and renders the necessary assistance to them."

The Russian Foreign Ministry continues its active work to return Russians to their homeland, Russia's top diplomat added.

Russia started considering the possibility of launching a humanitarian operation to return its underage citizens from Iraq in autumn 2017, when the Iraqi government informed it of detaining Russian women and their children during an anti-terrorism operation in Mosul. In 2017, an inter-agency commission dealing with the return of children from combat zones was established. In December 2018 and February 2019, 57 children were repatriated to Russia from Iraq thanks to the efforts of the Russian Foreign Ministry, the Emergencies Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Health Ministry and other agencies.

A Russian Emergencies Ministry aircraft has evacuated 33 children of Russian citizens held in a prison in Baghdad last week.

Earlier, Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova said that all identified children of Russian citizens jailed in Iraq for terrorist activity would be returned to Russia by August. Most of them are four years old or younger and were born outside Russia’s territory.