Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova’s comment in response to questions about Russian citizens held in prison in Tripoli
In connection with the incoming media requests to comment on a recent video with Russian citizens Maxim Shugaley and Samer Sueifan, filmed, apparently, in the Libyan prison there they are being held in, we would like to note the following.
Indeed, Russian representatives never visited Mr Shugaley and Mr Sueifan in their confinement because the Tripoli authorities, violating the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations, have not provided us with this opportunity. In the current context, any trips made by Russian diplomats to Libya are associated with unacceptably high risks to their personal safety. Because of this, the Russian Embassy in Tripoli had to be evacuated to Tunisia back in 2013, after it was openly attacked by militants from a local armed group. Several dozen Russian diplomats and members of their families quickly arranged a convoy at night, safely bypassed the pickets of semi-bandit units and fled the country without any casualties.
Nevertheless, the Russian Foreign Ministry is working on the release of Maxim Shugaley and Samer Sueifan. We got involved in this work immediately after receiving belated information through unofficial channels about their illegal arrest in Tripoli in May 2019. We sent appropriate notes to the Government of National Accord through their diplomatic mission in Moscow. We regularly and insistently raise this topic at all meetings with representatives of the Tripoli authorities, demanding an immediate and unconditional release of the Russian citizens. In particular, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov did so at his meeting with Deputy Chairman of Libya's Government of National Accord Ahmed Maiteeq and GNA Foreign Minister Mohammed Siala in Moscow in June. We are using all available communication channels, including confidential ones, with all states that have any influence on the GNA.
As a result of our persistent efforts, we have recently received written assurances from Foreign Minister Siala that the problem with our citizens will be resolved in the near future.
The Russian Foreign Ministry will continue its purposeful and energetic work towards this end.