On Monday evening, nine Interenergoservice, a Russian company, staff members were kidnapped in Baghdad. One of them was later released. The kidnapped engineers and technicians were working on rebuilding a thermal power station in the Iraqi capital.
Mr. Rybinsky told RIA Novosti that the company had been working in Iraq since 1997. The work was being done within the framework of the UN Oil for Food humanitarian program. The company was rebuilding power stations, delivering spare parts and opening energy facilities. Their work was interrupted by military actions in the spring of 2003, but in the fall of 2003, Russian specialists returned to Iraq to fulfill their commitments on earlier contracts within the framework of the Oil for Food. New contracts were made with the new Iraqi authorities.
The first project after the war was to build a thermal electric station in Nasiria, and in March the company began working in Baghdad. The company concluded its last contract on March 10 with the Iraqi Energy Ministry.
Lack of electricity is an acute problem in Iraq. The work to rebuild a thermal power station in Baghdad also created jobs for the Iraqis.
According to Mr. Rybinsky, the company does not want to stop working in Iraq. "Together with the Iraqis we have lived through many difficult situations, including an economic blockade. Our close relations tie us to them, we never felt any aggression from them and we are interested in continuing our work in Iraq," he noted. However, Mr. Rybinsky said that the safety of his people in Iraq is a priority for the company, and that the company would do everything possible for their staff members to be released.
According to Mr. Rybinsky, reports about Russian hostages arrived in Moscow yesterday evening. During the night, the embassy did everything possible to determine what had happened to the engineers and workers. The company is currently discussing the prospects of other workers' work in Iraq, if security cannot be guaranteed.
A decision about the evacuation of personnel will occur in accordance with the recommendations of the Foreign Ministry and the Russian Embassy in Baghdad which knows and can evaluate the situation.
Earlier, diplomatic sources reported that Moscow was considering the possibility of evacuating the Russian specialists working in Iraq by Russian Emergencies Ministry planes. There are 500 Russian specialists in Iraq.