Four Russian bikers who were detained in Iraq on Sunday for alleged espionage and visa forgery charges have been released, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said in his Twitter on Friday.
“The bikers detained in Iraq are already in the Russian Embassy. They have yet to be given back their bikes. Thank you to everyone who helped,” Rogozin wrote.
Four Russians, Oleg Kapkayev, Alexander Vardanyants, Oleg Maksimov and Maxim Ignatyev, who were traveling through Central Asia, Iran and Turkey, were detained near the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on May 20 after they came from Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous region that does not require an Iraqi visa for travelers.
They were reported not to have Iraqi visas.
After being detained, the men were transferred to an Iraqi military base where their documents were seized and espionage charges were brought against them.
The bikers’ arrest triggered a diplomatic row with Moscow sending notes to the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, demanding the men’s immediate release.
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani pledged on Thursday their quick release.
Hundreds of Moscow bikers also held a rally on Thursday near the Iraqi Embassy in support of their detained biker buddies.
The four men will leave for Russia on Saturday morning, the bikers’ lawyer Alexander Orlov, also a member of the Moscow-based motorcycle club Rolling Anarchy MCC (RAMCC), told RIA Novosti.
“They are leaving Baghdad tomorrow morning,” Orlov said.