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Russian traveler captured in Syria contacts relatives to say he may be killed

Russian traveler Konstantin Zhuravlyov who has been in captivity in Syria since October 2013 contacted his relatives in Tomsk, a city in Western Siberia, last weekend to say that the militants who captured him were threatening him with death, Zhuravlyov's friend and fellow-traveler Yevgeny Kovalevsky wrote on his page in social networks on Tuesday.

Kovalevsky also posted a video recording of Zhuravlyov's Skype conversation with his mother Nadezhda in which he said that the militants might phone her to tell that they would kill him if the Russian authorities did not do anything to rescue him.

"But please, take care of yourself and remember that the Lord is with us even if they kill me," Zhuravlyov told his mother in Skype.

The abducted Russian's mother refused to talk to Itar-Tass because, as she said, she was not feeling well.

For his part, Oleg Melnikov, the leader of the Alternative movement which had tried to free Zhuravlyov, told Itar-Tass that they had managed to contact the militants who captured Zhuravlyov. "They used to demand a release of 25 of their comrades from Syrian prisons. However, their current demands are unclear," Melnikov said.

"We talked to the militants. We even talked to their leader and he said that if a Sharia court confirmed that (Konstantin Zhuravlyov) was a Muslim, he (the militant leader) would pledge his word for him. We had just left for the scene when we learnt that the leader had been killed. Now, the group does not have a leader and it is unclear with whom and what we should negotiate," Melnikov said.

In his open letter to the Russian leadership, Kovalevsky asked them to help releasing his friend Konstantin Zhuravlyov from captivity.

"I am asking the authorities to start doing something. The Russian-Syrian talks are currently under way. Possibly, our leaders will be able to do something to free Kostya. He is a Russian national. So, please, help saving our compatriot from the Syrian captivity," Kovalevsky wrote in his letter. He added that bombardments near a place where Zhuravlyov was being kept had intensified.

In October 2013, militants from the Liva al -Tauhid armed group captured Russian extreme traveler Konstantin Zhuravlyov allegedly for spying for official Damascus. The Russian had crossed into Syria from Turkey and planned to continue his journey to Sahara.

A Syrian security service employee told Itar-Tass some time ago that the Syrian state could not be responsible for Zhuravlyov's life because he had penetrated into Syria from Turkey without any official grounds, an offence which is punishable by imprisonment. However, considering a high level of relations between Russia and Syria, official Damascus has promised to do everything possible to release the Russian.

[Source: Itar Tass, Tomsk, 11Feb14]

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small logoThis document has been published on 13Feb14 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.