Russian sailors owe release on bail to collective effort-Abramian
By Tamara Frolkina

ITAR-TASS News Agency
August 4, 2005 Thursday 12:32 PM Eastern Time

MOSCOW, August 4 -- The release of Russian sailors from a Nigerian
prison on bail is largely a result of collective efforts by diplomats
and political and public figures, UNESCO's goodwill ambassador Ara
Abramian has told Tass in an interview.

"I was very glad to hear the news about the Nigerian court's decision
to release our sailors against the Russian embassy's guarantees. That
success is a product of our joint efforts," he said.

As UNESCO's goodwill ambassador, Abramian took an active part in the
humanitarian campaign for easing the plight of Russian sailors kept
in a tight security prison in Nigeria.

The African pride oil tanker belonging to a Greek company, whose crew
included fifteen Russian sailors, was detained in the autumn of 2003
in neutral waters off Nigeria on the suspicion of oil smuggling. The
tanker's crew was arrested.

There have been repeated calls on the Nigerian leadership for easing
the Russian sailors' conditions from the Patriarch of Moscow and all
Russia Alexy II, State Duma members and the Russian Foreign Ministry.

State Duma international affairs committee Konstantin Kosachyov said
last month, "We have approached UNESCO's goodwill ambassador Ara
Abramian, with whom we have a good relationship, with a request for
joining the efforts to settle the situation," Kosachyov said. "He
readily agreed."

Abramian then told the media that as UNESCO's goodwill ambassador
he was prepared for taking part in the humanitarian action to help
ease the conditions of Russian sailors, but that was a very delicate
matter. He explained that he would be able to work for a solution,
if there was a formal request from the Russian Foreign Ministry and
the mandate for using his international contacts for negotiations
with the Nigerian leadership.

"This is precisely the line of action we chose to follow with the
Armenian government to secure the release of Armenian pilots from
jail in Equatorial Guinea," Abramian said.