The An-32’s crew commander Russia’s Vladimir Popkov, who was arrested in late December in the South Sudan, was released on Sunday evening and arrived in Khartoum, a spokesman of the Russian Embassy in Sudan Yury Vidakas said.
“The government of South Sudan released the entire crew together with the Russian citizen, without giving any formal explanations of his detention. Now all crew members, including Russian citizen, Vladimir Popkov, are in Khartoum and feel good,” the spokesman said.
The plane, owned by Sudanese company TarcoAirlines was held up on December 28, 2011. Crew members, including Russian citizen Popkov and also citizens of Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Sudan, were detained by local security services and taken to a military camp, three kilometers from the airport.
The crew was expected to perform a flight for White Nile Petroleum on a Khartoum- Sarjas - Al-Fallujah - Al-Ubayyid - Khartoum route.
The question of whether the crew will continue to work in Sudan will be decided later by the leadership of the airline.
However, Russian Special Presidential Envoy to Africa, Mikhail Margelov, said “the pilots did not intend to leave the country and will continue to work in the TarcoAirlines.”
Situation itself, as Margelov noted, explaines with “arguments between North and South Sudan over the oil fields.”