24 May 2012, 13:15

Russian bikers freed in Iraq

Russian bikers freed in Iraq

Four Russian bikers, who had been held captive in a Baghdad military prison for alleged visa regime violation, have been finally released, Russia’s Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has announced. “The bikers detained in Iraq are already in the Russian Embassy. Their bikes haven’t been given back yet.

Four Russian bikers, who had been held captive in a Baghdad military prison for alleged visa regime violation, have been finally released, Russia’s Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has announced.

“The bikers detained in Iraq are already in the Russian Embassy. Their bikes haven’t been given back yet. Thanks to everyone who helped us,” Rogozin wrote in his Twitter microblog.

Russian bikers from Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tula were arrested on May 20 during their Middle Asia trip. The contact was lost for over 24 hours. Anxious relatives reported the incident to the Russian Consular Office in Iraq.

The bikers were held in a 100-square-meter prison cell, together with 122 inmates.

 Earlier, the detained Russians told the Voice of Russia that they had been taken out of the jail by car in an unknown direction.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zibari pledged to release the bikers due to Russian diplomatic efforts.

Russian bikers in Iraq taken to unknown destination

The Russian bikers that were detained in Iraq on the 20th of this month have been taken from the jail to an undisclosed destination.

The detainees’ friend, Alexander Utkin, has told the Voice of Russia about the occurrence. He added that the bikers are not being taken to the Russian Embassy and that their current whereabouts are somewhere near Baghdad. Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshiyar Zibari, said in the wake of efforts by the Russian diplomats in Iraq yesterday that the bikers would be set free. But it was reported last night that their incarceration conditions had been worsened. The four Russian nationals travelling on bikes were detained without visas and charged with espionage. They entered Iraq via Iraqi Kurdistan, which one normally enters without a visa.

Russian bikers detained in Iraq still in custody

The Iraqi authorities have ordered to release the Russian bikers detained on the 20th of May, the Iraqi foreign Minister told the BBC. Four Russian bikers from St. Petersburg, Moscow and Tula were detained in Bagdad on the 20th of May because they did not have any visas.

The Russian bikers detained earlier in the week in Iraq remain in custody.

The bikers have been transferred to a prison cell containing over 120 people, the detainees’ relatives report.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said on Thursday that local authorities had given orders to release the Russians.

Four Russian citizens traveling on motorcycle were detained in Baghdad on May 20 because of the lack of visas.

As reported to "Voice of Russia" by friends and relatives of the four, the young men had entered Iraq via the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan which does not require visas, unlike the rest of the country.

Local authorities have accused the Russians of espionage.

Detained Russian bikers report worsening conditions of detention

The Russian bikers detained earlier in the week in Iraq have been transferred to a prison cell containing over 100 people, reports the brother of one of the bikers. Earlier it was reported that local authorities had given orders to release the Russians.

Four Russian citizens traveling on motorcycle were detained in Baghdad on May 20 because of the lack of visas. As reported to "Voice of Russia" by friends and relatives of the four, the young men had entered Iraq via the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan which does not require visas, unlike the rest of the country.

Local authorities have accused the Russians of espionage.

Russian bikers to be released

The families and friends of the four bikers told The Voice of Russia that the young men had entered Iraq via the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan which does not require visas, unlike the rest of the country. Local authorities accused the Russians of espionage.

Moscow bikers sent a petition to the Iraqi Ambassador to Russia demanding his assistance in a speedy release of the Russian citizens. The Russian foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in Iraq also contributed to solving this problem.

Earlier, at a meeting with the Russian Ambassador in Bagdad, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani assured that the Russian bikers would be released soon.

The Voice of Russia interviews Yevgeny Vardanyants, Alexander Vardanyants' brother and Maxim Ignatyev’s uncle.

They were frequently texting us on the road, saying everything was fine, that there were a lot of cordons, which checked their papers and let them through. They were stopped more and more often as they approached Baghdad. Then we lost track of them for some time. Then my brother called his wife saying everything was OK, although he couldn’t talk. But they were still allowed to. He also said they would be released soon. Yesterday he texted us saying that Iraq’s President didn’t believe them to be spies and had ordered to free them. They were supposed to be taken to the Russian Embassy at 5 o’clock, which means they managed to contact it. We called the embassy and were told they were to be there at 5 o’clock and then there would be more information. After that we couldn’t reach anyone anymore. We received the latest SMS from them last night.

Why were they detained? Aren’t people allowed to travel in Iraq by bike? Could it be because of their behavior? Why such a sudden change of heart?

They are mature people, all but Maxim are over 45. There’s no way their behaviour could have been offensive. Why would they do anything like that? They are motor-tourists. They’ve travelled many countries. If you go to Oleg’s site you’ll see that most of their travel map is coloured red, which means they’ve visited all those places. Travelling isn’t forbidden. They also wanted to go to Afghanistan, but local guys dissuaded them, while Iraqi authorities gave them green light, saying it was calm in Iraq, because they are interested in improving the image of their country. We’ve no idea what when wrong as we lost all contact with our guys. Their cell phones were taken away except for one hidden phone, which they are using to text us. There are their coordinates in the text messages, as well as a tracking device on one of the bikes. So we know they are somewhere near the Baghdad airport. But that’s all we know.

Are there any other details? They have recently texted saying they may be executed.

That was the last message. We know nothing else. We can’t reach the Consul to ask him to meet our guys there. They are being interrogated without a consul. All in all, they’re on their own there and our authorities are doing nothing to help them.

What are you going to do now?

We are going to rally outside the Iraqi Embassy at 4 p.m. today. And we’re sending letters to all authorities. I’m at the Presidential Directorate for Correspondence from Citizens and Organizations right now, where I’ve just handed in my letter. It will be considered within a month.

A member of the Rolling Anarchy moto club has told the Voice of Russia they received the last SMS last night, at 3:30 a.m. The text message from Oleg Kapkayev to Ivan in St. Petersburg read as follows: “We’ve been accused of espionage and forging visas. We’ve been beaten up and they’re threatening us with the death penalty.”

Russian bikers land in Iraqi jail

The news of ill-fated Russian bikers, whom Iraqi authorities have jailed for alleged espionage and visa forgery, is being widely discussed by the Russian Internet community.

The Voice of Russia has talked to Alexander Orlov, a member of the RAMCC motor-club in Moscow and founder of the RURIDERS internet magazine, who actively participated in organizing a meet-up with the Iraqi Ambassador to Russia.

“We are inviting all those concerned about the fate of our fellow citizens in Iraq to sign a petition to hand it over to the Iraqi Embassy. Even if Iraqi authorities claim their visas weren’t duly completed, they have no right to blackmail them with the death penalty, beat them up and prevent the Russian consul from visiting them. There is no way our guys intentionally violated the Iraqi visa regime. These people have been travelling the world for more than ten years now. They are the most experienced and famous motor-tourists in Russia,” Alexander Orlov says.

The Russian Embassy in Iraq filed a petition to release Russian bikers

The Russian Embassy in Iraq filed a petition to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iraq to release four Russian bikers, the Foreign Ministry Spokesman said Thursday.

According to Lukashevich, on May 22 during the meeting with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, the Russian Ambassador to Baghdad asked to resolve the situation with the four arrested Russian citizens as soon as possible. After filing the first petition, the Russian Embassy in Iraq filed another one demanding the release of the Russian citizens.  

Russian bikers arrested without visas - Lukashevich

A group of Russian bikers was arrested in Iraq for entering to the country from Turkey without having Iraqi visas, the Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Thursday.

According to Lukashevich, the group was arrested by officers in military uniform and taken to an Iraqi military base. Their documents have also being seized by officers. The Russian Embassy in Baghdad is working on the release of the Russian citizens.

Iraq: detained Russian bikers report abuse

The Russian Embassy in Iraq has confirmed reports that four Russian bikers - Oleg Kapkayev, Alexander Vardanyants, Oleg Maximov, Maxim Ignatyev - have been detained on spy charges.

Spokesman for the embassy Sergei Cherkasov told journalists that Russian diplomats were investigating the incident.

The friends and relatives of the bikers told the Voice of Russia that the detainees are facing spy charges and are being physically abused and even threatened with the death penalty.

Four Russian bikers had been travelling on the Middle Eastern countries when they were stopped on May 9 in Iraq.

The Moscow-based Rolling Anarchy bike club has issued a collective petition addressing the Iraqi ambassador to Russia.

Together with an official letter from the lawyers of the detained bikers, the petition will be handed over to the diplomat during a rally in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Moscow.

Russian MPs have asked Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to urgently intervene.

4 Russian bikers face spy charges in Iraq

The Russian Embassy in Iraq has confirmed reports that four Russian bikers were detained on spy charges.

Spokesman for the embassy Sergei Cherkasov told the NTV channel that Russian diplomats were investigating the incident.

The detainees complain of physical abuse and death penalty threats.

Four Russian bikers had been travelling in the Middle Eastern countries when they were stopped on May 9 in Iraq. 

TASS, IF, RIA, VoR

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