Moscow to ensure safety of Russian citizens in Iraq

The Russian Foreign Ministry confirms reports to the effect that one Russian citizen has been killed in Iraq and two more taken hostage. In the obtaining situation, Moscow is taking additional action to ensure the safety of Russian citizens, who still remain in Iraq, reads a statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry's spokesman Alexander Yakovenko.

According to Mr. Yakovenko, three Russian citizens working on contract for the InterEnergoServis joint-stock company were attacked near Latifiya on May 10. The three persons were helping to reactivate the South Baghdad thermal power plant.

One Russian citizen was killed as a result of the attack, and two more taken hostage. Officials from the Russian Embassy in Iraq are now investigating the incident's circumstances. We are also doing our best to extricate our citizens as soon as possible, Mr. Yakovenko stressed.

The Russian Foreign Ministry had repeatedly warned about that extremely involved Iraqi situation, Alexander Yakovenko reminded.

Our citizens were insistently asked to leave Iraq and not to go there until the situation's normalization, Mr. Yakovenko noted. The Russian Foreign Ministry, as well as the national Emergencies Ministry evacuated all those, who wanted to leave Iraq. The concerned organizations are now taking additional action to ensure the safety of all remaining Russian citizens, Mr. Yakovenko went on to say.

Talking to RIA Novosti, officials at the Russian Embassy in Baghdad noted that a car carrying Russian specialists was attacked by unknown gunmen in a Baghdad district on May 10, that is, when they were returning from the Musayeb thermal power plant 50 km south of Baghdad.

No organization has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. No demands are currently being voiced.

Other InterEnergoServis specialists were attacked on April 12, what with gunmen breaking into a house where corporate workers live and seizing nine hostages. One hostage was released soon afterward. Others were set free some time later.

Russia's National Security Council advised Russian citizens that same day to leave Iraq in connection with the drastic aggravation of the local situation. The Russian Emergencies Ministry's aircraft evacuated about 500 Russian citizens and other CIS citizens, who were working on Russian contracts at Iraqi enterprises. For his own part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov noted that companies and their specialists alone were supposed to decide on their possible evacuation.

Meanwhile about 300 Russian citizens, mostly those working for the InterEnergoServis company refused evacuation, continuing to work in Iraq. All Russian specialists staying in Iraq submitted their written statements to the Russian Embassy in Baghdad, noting that they had been warned about the rather involved local situation and potential security risks, but that they were staying voluntarily.

The InterEnergoServis company is now fulfilling four contracts on Iraqi territory. Contracts for repairing and reactivating the Dora, South Baghdad and Musayeb thermal power plants were signed on January 20, March 7 and March 10, 2004, respectively. A contract for the delivery of electronic components to the Nassiriya thermal power plant was inked on March 7 between InterEnergoServis and the interim Iraqi administration.

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