Russian pilots return home

The 13 crewmembers of the Russian Mi-26 helicopter freed by Sudanese authorities have returned home by a flight of the Emirates Airlines.

The Russian aircraft flying from Russia to the Democratic Republic of Congo to take part in a UN humanitarian mission was detained by Sudanese military authorities in the town of El-Fasher due to improper transit documents.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, the Russian Embassy in Khartoum and the UN structures were involved in the negotiations for releasing the pilots.

The Russian Foreign Ministry demanded from Sudan to release the helicopter and the crew immediately by sending the Sudanese authorities an official protest.

On Tuesday, the Sudanese authorities released the pilots kept under house arrest in the officers' club in Khartoum. Sudan demanded that the released Russians should abandon the country, promising that the helicopter would continue the flight when the relief crew arrived.

The Russian Foreign Ministry welcomed the Russian pilots' release. "Moscow hopes that such incidents in the two countries' relations will not be repeated in the future," its statement reads.

The crewmembers flied from Sudan to Moscow via Dubai on Wednesday night.

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