Russian tanker detained by Libyan authorities illegally

The Russian Foreign Ministry has demanded the immediate release of a Russian vessel and its crew arrested by the Libyan military, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has demanded the immediate release of a Russian vessel and its crew arrested by the Libyan military, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has said.

"We believe the Russian vessel and its crew were seized illegally and demand that the authorities in Tripoli release them immediately and unconditionally," she said at a briefing in Moscow on Sept.17.

It emerged earlier that the Russian Mekhanik Chebotaryov tanker had been detained in Syria.

The incident occurred at 10:50 a.m. Moscow time on September 16, the tanker's owner Oil Marine Group said earlier. The tanker was stopped by a Libyan-flagged warship in international waters. The empty vessel had been on its way to the Libyan port of Zawiya. It had been expected to be loaded up while anchored at Zawiya or at the Tunisian port of Zarzis.

The vessel has a 12-member crew.

Having boarded the vessel, the Libyan military did not explain their reason for stopping it. They had two crew members board the warship and ordered the tanker's captain to follow them and switch off the automatic identification system.

The vessel was then escorted to and moored at the port of Tripoli. The entire crew had their documents and cell phones confiscated. All vessel documentation was also seized.

The company has not received any official statements or demands from local authorities.

Currently, the sailors are on board the vessel, according to the press release. They were threatened with police custody.

Oil Marine Group operates 12 tankers. The company is registered in St. Petersburg. In 2014 the company had a revenue of 962 million rubles and a net profit of 116 million rubles. According to the SPARK-Interfax database, 50 percent of the limited liability company is owned by Milestone Express (Panama), 40 percent by Instally Ltd. (Virgin Islands) and 10 percent by Om Consulting (St. Petersburg), owned by several individuals.

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