Friday, September 25, 2009

Vessel Arctic Sea still held by Russians

The Arctic Sea saga is not over. It hasn't been in the press much, but Tradewinds has an update today.

Russian authorities had apparently planned to hand the ship back to its owner in Las Palmas last week but have not done so. The Spanish port’s captain has also refused permission for the ship to berth saying the presence of Russian military personnel onboard compromised its existence as a merchant vessel.

The Solchart representative who had flown to Las Palmas with a view to once again assuming control of the ship arrived back in Helsinki on Thursday night after a second fruitless journey within the last few weeks.

The developments led Matveev to cry foul over the tactics of the Russian Investigative Committee (RIC) which has been conducting an investigation into the ship’s true cargo and events surrounding its apparent hijacking.

“Russia has stolen the ship from us and stolen the cargo from the timber industry.” The cargo of sawn timber was due to be discharged at an Algerian port in early August.

“And now they are towing it again to nowhere,” said Matveev who has been tracking the ship and contends it is on the move northwards from the Canary Islands.

Matveev said he has asked the RIC why they continue to occupy the ship and described their response as laughable.

“They told me they are there to secure the ship again from further hijackings from Spain and Africa.

“I told them we have seven other ships; would you like to secure them as well?” he mocked.

The Arctic Sea's series of misadventures and the heavy-handed nature of Russia’s ‘rescue’ mission have sparked theories that it may in fact have been ferrying a weapons cargo, possibly to Iran or Syria.

Eight suspects apparently detained onboard have been charged in Moscow with piracy and armed hijacking.

There is something really fishy about this whole thing, and I would not be surprised if the recent decree against Iran is somehow mixed up in all this.

I hope Tom Clancy is tracking this story, as if someone can get to the true story behind this, it would be a good read.

click here for link to article

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