12:12 04.02.2013

Kochneva's relatives ask Kadyrov for assistance in freeing her from Syrian abductors, says newspaper

Relatives of Ukrainian journalist Anhar Kochneva, who has been kidnapped in Syria, have asked Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov to become a mediator in talks between Ukraine and the Syrian abductors, Segodnya daily newspaper said on Monday.

"We have sent a letter to Kadyrov and we hope Ukrainian diplomats will support us," Kochneva's ex-husband Dmytro Petrov said.

The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine, in turn, told the newspaper that "if Kochneva's relatives pass the letter to us, we will consider it."

It was said earlier that Kochneva had been abducted in Syria in October 2012 by Free Syrian Army insurgents. They threatened to kill her unless a $50 million ransom was paid.

In January 2013, the rebels told the hostage's relatives that they were ready to cut the ransom to $300,000.

On January 31, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara told reporters that he had given a formal request from Kyiv for EU assistance in the release of Ukrainian hostages in Libya and journalist Kochneva. He said that this request had been passed at a meeting with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.

On February 1, newspaper Segodnya, referring to Kochneva's nephew Dmitry Astafurov, reported that the Syrian rebels who abducted Kochneva had demanded that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov be a mediator in talks with Ukraine.

At the same time, the Chechen president's spokesperson, Alvi Karimov, told the newspaper: "I and many of my friends in Russia are closely watching the events surrounding Anhar Kochneva and are worried about her future. I declare that reports that the kidnappers expressed a desire to see Ramzan Akhmatovich [Kadyrov] as a mediator in the negotiations are misleading."

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