A leaked phone call showed the head of Libya’s High State Council (HSC), Khaled Al-Mishri, trying to blackmail a Russian member of the National Values Protection Fund Yunus Abazid to approve a deal aimed at releasing the Russian nationals Maxim Shogali and Samer Suwifan, who were arrested in Libya a year ago, in return for organising an official meeting between the Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During the call, Abazid called on the Muslim Brotherhood key figure Al-Mishri to release the two imprisoned young men, but Al-Mishri replied that those prisoners have given evidence and confessed that they were working for Saif al-Islam and communicated with Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA).
Abazid acknowledged that thr Russian nationals had contacted Saif al-Islam, but stressed that they did not work for him. “They were only doing social studies,” he said.
Al-Mishri tried to blackmail the member of the National Values Protection Fund, saying that the GNA is ready to release the two young men and not to take the case to court in return for obtaining Russian support to Fayez Al-Sarraj and the GNA.
He added that Al-Sarraj has the desire to visit Russia and meet with President Putin and hopes that Russia will issue a decree in favour of legitimacy and United Nations Security Council resolutions.
“But Russia has a neutral position and we do not accept any blackmail for it. You are requesting a meeting with the supreme leader of Russia, and the Fund cannot arrange this meeting,” Abazid replied.
He added, “You have to understand that ‘I give you this and in return I get this’ concept is totally unacceptable for Russia.”
Al-Mishri replied, “We also reject this”, noting, “If those young men are sent for trial, things could get awkward and we don’t want that.”
Abazid interrupted him, saying: “With all Respect, how can we swap the two men who as you claimed broke the visa rules against changing Russia’s approach to Libya?”
Al-Mishri stated, “It is not a swap, but we are in a tough situation.”
Abazid replied: “You had previously said that the two young men are accused of only violating the visa rules, isn’t that right?”
Al-Mishri said: “No, regardless of the visa, they are also accused of communicating with parties we count as enemies, and we don’t want the situation to worsen.”
Abazid said: “They contacted different people, and you asked us to establish contact with Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, so the youth did it, adding that, according to what was reported to us, Saif Al-Islam was not accused of any case and he is a legitimate person in Libya.”
Al-Mishri said: I do not understand this, I asked you to contact with Saif al-Islam, but I did not say that they are to contact him illegally”
To which Abazid said: “however kidnapping people because they have violated visa terms even though their visas were legal and were issued by the embassy, and then using them as ransom is not acceptable.”
The leaked call ended with Mishri saying: “Okay, I will tell him [Sarraj] that the meeting will be hard and we will try to find another solution.”