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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

MV Arctic Sea: Not a Clear Case of Piracy According to the Finns

It appeared that the mystery of the MV Arctic Sea was all neatly (sort of) wrapped up by the Russian assertion that their Navy had "rescued" the crew and taken eight "pirates" into custody. See here.

Now, however, Lloyd's List reports a wrinkle in the Russian story:
A SENIOR Finnish policeman involved in the Arctic Sea case has apparently cast doubt on the Russian ministry of defence line that the general cargoship was the victim of a hijack.

Jan-Olof Nyholm, detective superintendent at Finland’s Centralkriminalpolisen, in an interview with Sweden’s TT news agency, revealed: “We have had an idea where it was heading for some time, but for tactical reasons we have not been able to comment on it. It was a case of aggravated criminal extortion and there was a very real threat to life and limb.”

Asked directly whether the Russian-owned ship had at any time been totally lost, he answered ambiguously: “Perhaps not as terribly lost as many may have believed.”
A statement on the official website of the Finnish police is notably circumspect. It confirms that an investigation into attempted extortion is taking place and that the police have been unable to comment openly for unspecified tactical reasons.

But the barb comes with the injection of a decided note of caution: “The authorities have not been able to confirm the alleged hijacking, and the connection between the alleged incident and the later events has not been established yet.”

The article goes on to point out several oddities in the stories that reportedly have been told by the crew. I guess it's not over.
"Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!"
Really, you can't make this stuff up.

UPDATE: More here, with more questions than answers:
Experts and officials across Europe said the saga of the missing 98-meter (320-foot) freighter was perplexing.

"The whole thing has been sniffy from start to finish," said David Osler, a maritime journalist at Lloyd's List in London.

Mikhail Voitenko, the editor of the online Maritime Bulletin-Sovfracht, said he had spoken with some of the Arctic Sea's sailors and was more puzzled than ever.

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