Russian Foreign Ministry demands Russian pilots be immediately released

The Russian Foreign Ministry has demanded that the Sudanese authorities should immediately release the crew of the Russian Mi-26T helicopter, a diplomatic source in Moscow reported on Monday.

On Monday the ministry summoned the Sudanese acting charge d'affaires in Moscow and informed him on the bewilderment "in connection with the continuing illegal action of detaining the Russian crew and helicopter," the source said.

The Russian party demanded that the crew should be immediately released and given an opportunity to continue their trip to the Congo. It also demanded that the Sudanese party should provide official explanations concerning the incident, the source concluded.

The Mi-26T transport helicopter belonging to the Russian airline Vertikal T, was making a UN humanitarian flight from Russia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when it was detained by the Sudanese military authorities in the city of El Fasher.

On Friday the Sudanese authorities allowed the crew to get to Khartum, where the helicopter was to leave for the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. According to the Sudanese party, the helicopter was detained due to incorrectly drawn transit documents. The Russian airline's representatives deny these claims.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, the Russian Embassy to Sudan and the UN structures are working to release the helicopter crew.

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