Russian pilots in Sudan may be released in a few hours

The crew of the Russian Mi-26T helicopter detained in Sudan may be released in a few hours, RIA Novosti learned from Kirill Anosov, deputy general director of the Vertikal T airline that owns the helicopter.

"We hope it will happen today, maybe even before the noon," he said. "The Sudanese authorities so far have not brought any charges against them nor explained their action." According to Anosov, all charges of incorrectly prepared documents are groundless. "Our pilots left for El Fasher from Khartum. In El Fasher the helicopter was fueled and given a permission to leave, but then the crew was detained without giving the reasons," the deputy general director said. "On Monday the military attache of the Sudanese Embassy to Moscow assured me that he would do his best to have the crew released as soon as possible, Anosov pointed out.

The day before the company's representatives were contacted by the helicopter's pilot, the company's general director Vladimir Skurikhin, he said. "He said they were all right, the conditions were normal, they did not have any problems with food or water, and they all were safe and sound," Anosov explained.

The Mi-26T transport helicopter of the Russian airline Vertikal T was making a UN humanitarian flight from Russia to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, when on July 21st it was detained by the Sudanese military authorities in the city of El Fasher. The reason for the detention was improperly drawn transit documents, the Sudanese party claimed. The Russian airline denies these charges. On Friday the Sudanese authorities allowed the crew to leave for Khartum.

On Monday the Russian Foreign Ministry sent Sudan an official protest concerning the detention of Russian pilots.

"The Russian Foreign Ministry demanded that the Russian helicopter and its crew should be immediately released and allowed to leave Sudan to fulfill its contract with the UN on participation in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo," the ministry announced.

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