Interenergoservis employees to leave Iraq?

The majority of the employees of the Russian-based Interenergoservis company may leave Iraq in the next 2-3 days, said Yevgeny Loginov, company press secretary.

An extraordinary meeting of the company's board of directors is expected to adopt a final decision on the matter, according to Mr. Loginov. The Interenergoservis representation will stay in the country in the event of its employees' departure, emphasized the press secretary.

A recent incident has prompted the company employees to leave the country. The Russian specialists came under fire in Baghdad on Monday afternoon when they were returning home from the Al-Mussaib thermal power station (50 km south of Baghdad) in a car. One of the Russian employees was killed, the other two were taken hostage.

None of the radical organizations has, thus far, claimed responsibility for the murder and kidnapping.

Alexander Yakovenko, official spokesman of the Russian foreign ministry, has said Moscow is taking measures to have the Russian nationals released as soon as possible.

Three Interenergoservis and five Ukrainian employees were already taken hostage in Iraq on April 12. However, they were all freed soon.

In the wake of the first incident, Interenergoservis representatives in Iraq sent letters to the UN officials overseeing the Oil for Food program requesting for better job conditions for the Russian employees in Iraq, tougher security measures and medicines. The UN officials never responded.

The company's contracts with Iraq expire in June 2005. 340 Interenergoservis employees are working in the country today.

The Iraqi authorities insist that the company should continue working in the country.

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