01:59 GMT +3 hours27 November 2014
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Russia Repeats Release of Nationals in Libya Appeal

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appealed to his Libyan counterpart Ashur Ben Khayalem on Thursday for the release of several prisoners from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine who have been held there on charges of assisting the former Gaddafi regime.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov appealed to his Libyan counterpart Ashur Ben Khayalem on Thursday for the release of several prisoners from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine who have been held there on charges of assisting the former Gaddafi regime.

Lavrov made the appeal, which was posted on the Foreign Ministry website, during the 67th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The two Russians, 19 Ukrainians and three Belarusians were held last fall by the forces of the Libyan Transitional Government, and accused of taking part in military activity in support of the Gaddafi regime. The men were involved in the renovation of military equipment, including surface-to-air missiles.

One of the Russians, who was accused of coordinating the group, was given a life sentence, while the others got ten years hard labor.

"Lavrov stressed the question of the fate of the group of Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians arrested in Libya and given long prison terms. He reiterated the demand for observance of their rights in connnection with international norms and a guarantee for their immediate return to their homelands," the Foreign Ministry said on its website.

Thousands died in the uprising against Gaddafi, which lasted from February to October 2011. Gaddafi himself finally died in the fighting on October 20 after a 42-year reign

Lavrov praised Libya's recent free elections to its parliament, the first open ballot since the fall of King Idris in 1970.

"From the Russian side, we confirmed our readiness to help the Libyan government with practical cooperation to help with the solutions to the mass of huge tasks to build a peaceful future and build a democratic state," the Foreign Ministry document said.

Lavrov also met UN General Secretary Ban ki-Moon and discussed the situation in Afghanistan, Syria and the Middle East