Russian Foreign Ministry: Libya’s GNA Promised to Free Russian Detainees in Tripoli

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On Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it had received written assurances from Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) that two Russian nationals imprisoned in Tripoli would be released soon.

Maxim Shogali and Samer Suwifan, employees of Russia’s Foundation for National Values Protection, were detained in the Libyan capital in May of last year for allegedly trying to tamper with the upcoming general election.

In a statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “As a result of our persistent efforts, we have recently received written assurances from Foreign Minister Mohamed Siala of Libya’s Government of National Accord that the issue related to our citizens would be settled soon.”

Zakharova said the ministry had not been immediately informed about their arrest but had been doing everything in its power to secure their release. She added that the Tripoli-based government had not allowed Russian diplomats to visit the two in prison in breach of Vienna Conventions.

Notably, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, has previously stated that the presence of Russian prisoners in Tripoli was the main obstacle to bilateral cooperation between the Kremlin and the GNA.

Oil-rich Libya has been mired in chaos since the ouster and killing of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. It now has two rival authorities and a multitude of militias vying for control of the country.

The country’s internationally recognised government is based in Tripoli, while Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the Libyan National Army, is supported by a parallel administration based in the east.