08:21 GMT29 January 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday it was aware of a number of Western reports about the detention of two Russian citizens in Tripoli, but had not received an official notification from the Libyan side yet.

    Earlier in the day, the Bloomberg news agency reported, citing a letter from Libyan prosecutors, that two Russian nationals were arrested in Tripoli and accused of seeking to influence the country's upcoming elections. The news agency noted that the Russians tried to organize a secret meeting with Saif Islam Gaddafi, a son of Libya's former long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi and potential candidate for the country's presidency.

    "We have paid attention to the information that appeared in a number of Western sources about the detention of two Russian citizens in Tripoli," the ministry said.

    The ministry added that it was verifying this information through its channels.

    "We have taken measures to check it through the appropriate channels," the ministry added, noting that there was no official notification on this matter from the Libyan side.

    Meanwhile, Alexander Malkevich, the head of the Russian Foundation for the Protection of National Values, said earlier on Friday that the foundation's two employees, including sociologist Maxim Shugaley, were detained in Libya. According to Malkevich, as members of a research group, they were engaged exclusively in conducting sociological surveys and studying humanitarian, cultural and political situation in the country. Malkevich added that the two employees were detained in May, although information on their arrest appeared only on Friday.

    Later in the day, the head of the criminal investigation department under the Libyan prosecutor general, Sadiq Sour, confirmed that the two Russian nationals were arrested in the country's capital city in May for trying to meddle in the upcoming elections. The department head also said that the surname of one of the detainees was Shugaley.



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