Nigerian pirates promised to release the captivated Russian sailors for a ransom. Two of them, captured from the British ship ESTER-C in the waters of the Republic of Cameroon on February 6, have been awaiting their release for more than two weeks. A third was captured on board the Armada Tuah of Malaysia off the coast of Nigeria's Bayelsa State on February 17. The pirates had previously demanded $1.3 million for the sailors.
The captain of the ESTER-C, Valery Vinogradov, and chief engineer Andrey Krenev are being kept together, feel normal and stay in cheerful mood, they said in a telephone conversation with the experts hired by the operating company of the British cargo ship.
"As a condition for their release, the kidnappers put forward purely material requirements", officials with the Russian Foreign Ministry said. They added that the ministry takes every effort to release the captured sailors. Another member of the crew, a Romanian citizen, also remains with the Russians.
The situation with a senior mate of the tugboat Armada Tuah, Andrei Novikov, is the same. The Foreign Ministry received a confirmation saying that Novikov, three Ukrainians and two citizens from India, who were forced to leave the ship, were alive.