Russian bikers free
The Russian Embassy in Bagdad is planning the bikers’ return home.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has done everything possible for releasing the four travellers. They were kept in custody at a military base in the suburbs of Bagdad for several days. They say that they were charged with espionage. The Russian Foreign Ministry sent two notes to Iraq and at a meeting with the Russian Ambassador on the 22nd of May Iraqi President Jalal Talabani promised to look into the situation. Now it only remains to return the bikers home, the Embassy press-attache says.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the bikers entered Iraq via the autonomous region of Kurdistan where visas are not required, unlike in the rest of Iraq. They ignored Russian diplomats’ recommendations to obtain Iraqi visas and proceeded to the Iraqi capital. A friend of the detained bikers, a member of a Moscow motorcycle club, told The Voice of Russia that now the bikers are at the Russian Embassy.
“Oleg Maximov answered the phone and said that they were at the Russian Embassy in Bagdad. They are planning to fly to Moscow tomorrow morning. All Russian bikers are grateful to the Russian Foreign Ministry for help.”
The Iraqi authorities promised to release the bikers yesterday but, as the bikers themselves say, they were moved to a smaller cell in the same prison. A spokesman for the Iraqi government Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh comments on the situation.
“The Russian bikers are free now but yesterday the Russian Embassy asked us to keep them until morning because it was already late at night. Russian diplomats accompanied by representatives of the Iraqi government arrived this morning and took the bikers to the Russian Embassy. At present they are at the Embassy. They are in good health. You know that according to the law, our security forces carried out an investigation of their presence in the country. It was natural because they had illegally arrived at a foreign country with no visas. The bikers said they did not complain.”
Meanwhile, actions in support of the four bikers kept in custody in Iraq took place in Russia. There is a lively discussion of this incident in the social networks. On the 24th of May, the families and friends of the four bikers organised a piquet near the Iraqi Embassy in Moscow with the participation of hundreds of bikers. They passed an appeal with 350 signatures to the Iraqi Ambassador.