Russia paid no ransom for released hostages in Nigeria

Six Russian hostages held captive in Nigeria for over two months have been released. Russian officials say the terms for the release were political, no ransom demand was made by the kidnappers.

The four men and two women who work at a Russian-owned aluminium plant were handed over to the country's State Security services in the city of Port Harcourt in the South East region.

There is very little information at the moment on how exactly the release was carried out. It has been said that the lack of detailed information is due to the security of the released hostages. They are reported to be still in Nigeria and it is yet not clear when exactly they are going to get back home.

Russian Foreign Ministry officials have praised both the Russian and Nigerian officials in their work.

“The rescue operation was carried out directly by the Nigerian authorities and by the Russian Embassy in Lagos by the anti-terrorist committee of the Russian Federation and the representative of the Rusal aluminium company. Moscow highly evaluates the constructive efforts of the Nigerian authorities and is very grateful for co-operation in settling the problem,” Boris Malakhov, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said.

Some Russian officials have also confirmed that the demands of the kidnappers were not about money, but the terms for the release were political.

The workers were abducted on June 3 when gunmen stormed a residential compound, belonging to the aluminium producer Rusal. Militants entered by using dynamite to blow up the door to their victims’ apartment. A Nigerian driver was killed in the attack.

The Russian Foreign Ministry contacted the Nigerian government immediately after the incident and both sides worked closely to secure the release of the employees.

They are all alive and well, and we are expecting them to return home soon. On behalf of the company, I would like to express gratitude to Russian and Nigerian state security organisations for the joint and effective efforts on releasing our staff who were held hostage. There was no ransom paid and no other conditions were made.

Vera Kurochkina, Rusal company Press Service

“I would like to thank everyone who provided help in freeing our staff, and specifically the Russian Federation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Russian Embassy in Nigeria and Russian and Nigerian security services. On behalf of our company I would like to express gratitude to the staff who have been released and their family members for perseverance, self-control and understanding,” Aleksandr Bulygin, Head of the Rusal company, stated.

The South East Delta region of the country is known for being an unsafe area for foreign workers, especially those working for oil and steel producing companies. They’ve become a regular target for militant groups, who seek control over the Delta's resources and local gangs looking for ransoms. Unrest in the region is fuelled by poverty and corruption.

Around a hundred abductions were recorded in 2006. However, hostages are almost always freed unharmed.