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Questions Remain Over Ship's Russian Rescue


The "Arctic Sea's" cargo of timber seems unlikely to be worth the operation involved.

The "Arctic Sea's" cargo of timber seems unlikely to be worth the operation involved.

MOSCOW -- Russian investigators are looking into the circumstances of the apparent hijacking of a Maltese-registered ship "Arctic Sea" with 15 Russian sailors aboard, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The vessel was seized by an armed group consisting of Russian, Estonian, and Latvian nationals on July 24 in Swedish territorial waters.

On August 17 the ship was freed by the Russian "Ladny" patrol vessel near the Cape Verde Islands.

Former sailor Mikhail Voytenko, who is editor in chief of "Morskoy Byulleten-Sovfrakht" (The Sea Bulletin-Soviet Freight) online magazine, told RFE/RL that the whole story is very unusual and does not seem like an ordinary pirate hijacking.

Voytenko said the ship was seized by highly trained professionals, who were experts in communication systems aboard contemporary sea vessels, and it is very hard to define the real goals of the hijackers.

The whole operation on the vessel's hijacking might have cost more than the vessel itself and the timber aboard it. Who needs that kind of ship with that kind of cargo aboard? Voytenko asks.

He adds that the ship was captured in Europe, sailed without any problems through the English Channel, and then further into the Atlantic Ocean.

That is not what ordinary pirates do and some states and state interests might have been involved in the whole story, he concludes.
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