Faina’s owner asks US ambassador to Ukraine to stop American mediator

18:04, 22 December 2008
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In negotiations with pirates

Waterlux AG - owner of the Faina ship that was seized by pirates asks U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine William Taylor to immediately cease interference by American citizen Michele Lynn Ballarin in negotiations with pirates, says owner’s open letter to the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, transmitted to the UNIAN agency by a representative of the Faina owner captain Pavel Dragaev, Trend news agency reported.

The owner of the ship said that motor ship with Ukrainian crew and cargo has been for almost 90 days kept captive at Somalia coast. Long and sometimes arduous negotiations with the sea robbers have been underway all that time. Members of the ship`s crew have been under strict psychological oppression, and their mothers, wives and children - in the weary and worrisome anticipation.

“Convincing arguments and justifications were presented to the pirates several weeks ago and we persuaded criminals to take real amounts of ransom. Negotiations have passed to a final phase, and uneasy work has begun to define acceptable ways and conditions for the release of the vessel and crew,” noted the owner.

According to the ship-owner, at this stage U.S. citizen Michele Lynn Ballarin interfered in the negotiations “without any notification, without orders and powers. Using the links with the leaders of Somali clans, Mrs. Ballarin cynically and hard started and is still trying to switch the negotiations on herself”.

“Offering fantastic, not proved by anyone or anything amount of ransom, claiming the existence of some powers from the Ukrainian authorities, as well as from the U.S. Navy, of which Waterlux AG is unaware, Ballarin has reached a main, unfortunately, negative result - a real negotiation process has been again suspended, the suffering of sailors and their families again continue, and their chances to meet the New Year and Christmas in the warmth of a home are rapidly declining,” the letter says.

“We don’t want and don’t require explanations and motives of Ballarin’s dirty deeds, according to the ship-owner. Presently, the most important thing for us and all who render assistance in release of sailors and Faina vessel is to put an immediate and actual end to interference of this lady in the talks with pirates and to inform the latter about this decision.”

This task can be fulfilled only under Taylor’s assistance, ship-owner said.

“We are convinced that you, as a supreme U.S official in Ukraine, won’t be indifferent to Ukrainian sailors, but reactive actions for the above mentioned interference will lead to rapid and successful release of hostages,” the owner of Faina said.

On Dec. 25, pirates captured Faina near Somali with 17 Ukrainian citizens on the board. There were 33 T-72 tanks, grenade cup discharges, anti-aircraft emplacements and ammunition, which Kyiv had sold to Kenya, on the vessel board. The vessel is under the supervision of several U.S vessels. Their task is to prevent unshipping of arms and technique to the shore.

Release of Faina requires a ransom of $ 3.5mln, according to an elder of a Somali tribe.

An American woman was earlier reported to also negotiate with the pirates. U.S business lady Ballarin “having ties with U.S military and reconnaissance units” held talks with Somali pirates about release of the Ukrainian vessel, BBC reported. According to the Sea Bulletin–Soviet Freight, at the same time the U.S woman stopped the talks and the ship-owner even asked her not to join “the almost completed talks”,

“The Ukrainian sailors would be released if this woman did not interfere,” Dragaev said in his interview to UNIAN on Dec. 19. “I don’t rule out the fact that the sailors will be released within a week if there is no interference from outside,” he said.

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