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    Russian Navy denies Somalia mission scurvy claims

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    There is no basis to media claims that Russian Navy sailors suffered from scurvy while on a mission to patrol waters off Somalia, a Navy spokesman said on Monday.

    MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - There is no basis to media claims that Russian Navy sailors suffered from scurvy while on a mission to patrol waters off Somalia, a Navy spokesman said on Monday.

    The spokesman also denied reports of technical failures on board the warship in question.

    The Neustrashimy (Fearless) frigate returned to its Baltic base on February 8 after being deployed to the Gulf of Aden last October to protect commercial ships from pirate attacks.

    "Reports of technical failures that allegedly occurred and crew members suffering from scurvy are crude and cynical mistruths that insult the sailors and their relatives," Capt. 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said.

    He said such allegations represented attempts by some media outlets to belittle the achievements of the crew, the first to implement the Navy's plan for a permanent presence off the Horn of Africa.

    On January 7, the frigate was replaced by Russia's Pacific Fleet destroyer the Admiral Vinogradov, which arrived in the Gulf of Aden together with a tugboat and two fuel tankers. Russia later sent two Black Sea Fleet vessels to take part in the anti-piracy operation.

    Pirates have been increasingly active in the waters off Somalia, where over 120 ships were attacked in 2008, with around 40 vessels seized. Up to 20 warships from the navies of at least 10 countries are involved in anti-piracy operations off the coast of the lawless East African nation.

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