By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 30 June 2016:
A Russian-owned tanker has been seized by the Libyan coastguard with a cargo of petrol which the authorities suspect was being smuggled, possibly to Malta.
The Belize-flagged 110 metres, Temeteron ( 4686 tons deadweight) was detained off Zawia on Tuesday and escorted to Tripoli where it is now tied up in the inner harbour. The crew includes five Russians as well as Ukrainians and Greeks.
The Russian foreign ministry has told the Interfax news agency that its Tunis-based Libyan mission was doing all that it could to find out what had happened. It said: “What is deeply regretful is that fact that this incident occurred despite regular reminders … about Russian citizens and organisation facing security threats and other risks existing in Libya as a consequence of the complex military-political situation in the country”.
The ministry renewed its warning that Russian citizens should not visit Libya or do business there in person until the security situation has stabilised.
The Temeteron is the second Russian tanker to be seized. Last September, the Mekhanik Chebotarev was arrested off Zuwara, again on suspicion of smuggling petrol. The Russian captain and first officer were due to go on trial while the other nine members of the crew, including a women, were set free. Reports that the other two Russians were later released were never confirmed. MarineTraffic.com has no record of the whereabouts of the Mekhanik Chebotarev.