The crew of the Russian oil tanker Mekhanik Chebotaryov, which was detained off Libya's coast in September, has been freed and will arrive in Moscow on Friday, Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of Chechnya in Russia's North Caucasus, told Interfax.
"The Mekhanik Chebotaryov vessel's crew, earlier detained in Libya, has been freed. They will arrive in Moscow on Dec. 18 evening, together with representatives of the Libyan leadership and the Chechen Republic leader's advisor and Russian State Duma deputy, Adam Delimkhanov," Kadyrov said.
Three people, including the captain, remain on board the tanker, he added.
"They are free to go to Russia at any moment, but they wished to stay on board the vessel," the Chechen leader said.
Delimkhanov, acting at Kadyrov's instruction, was working to secure the release of the Russian tanker's crew from the very beginning, he said.
"Two people were freed in autumn. And, at the same time, during a meeting with a delegation of Libya's government in Grozny, I received assurances that all people would return to Russia after all judicial issues were resolved," Kadyrov said.
The Russian-flagged oil tanker Mekhanik Chebotaryov was captured off Libya's coast on September 16. The vessel was operated by a 12-member crew, all of them citizens of Russia. Libya's authorities suspected the tanker of smuggling Libyan oil. It was reported in October that sailor Pavel Magatin and the ship's cook Natalia Klyuchnikova had been freed.
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