Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday gave Libya’s charge d’affaires ad interim in Moscow a protest note over the long prison terms handed to two Russians in Tripoli on Monday.
“Libya’s charge d’affaires in Russia, Fatima Mamluk, was summoned to Russia’s Foreign Ministry on June 5,” the ministry said in a statement posted on its website.
“She was given a protest note over the Libyan military court’s June 4 guilty verdict to Russian nationals [Alexander] Shadrov and [Vladimir] Dolgov as well as a group of Ukrainian and Belarusian nationals detained in Tripoli in August 2011,” it said.
On Monday the Libyan authorities announced the sentences for the Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians who were charged with helping former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s troops. Shadrov, who was charged with coordinating the group, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Other defendants were sentenced to ten years imprisonment with labor.
“The Russian side voiced its bewilderment and indignation at the unjustifiably severe and unjust court ruling against our nationals to the Libyan diplomat,” the ministry said.
The foreign ministries of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus have expressed outrage and said they would seek the release of their citizens, including with the use of political leverage.
Two Russian citizens, 19 Ukrainians, and three Belarusians were arrested last fall by the Transitional National Council (PNC) of Libya. They were accused of taking part in military operations on the side of troops loyal to the ousted former Libyan leader.
In Libya, rebels ousted and killed long-standing dictator Gaddafi in October 2011 after a months-long military standoff in which they received assistance from NATO forces.