13 Feb 2019 17:08

Moldovan govt unable to access pilots freed in Afghanistan, brought to Moscow

CHISINAU. Feb 13 (Interfax) - Moldovan government officials have so far been unable to get access to the Moldovan pilots who were recently freed from captivity in Afghanistan and are currently in Moscow, the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration told Interfax on Wednesday.

Mihail Capatina, the ministry's secretary general of state, and Eugen Vasiliev, the chief medical officer at the State Chancellery, flew to Moscow on Monday evening at the government's behest, the ministry said. After it emerged that the pilots, Lionel (Ion) Buruiana and Mihai Crihan, had been brought to Moscow, the government decided to provide them with assistance and launch procedures to bring them home, it said.

"The Moldovan delegation has not yet received either access to the pilots or information on their accommodation from Russian authorities. The only detail that Foreign Ministry representatives obtained in conversations with officials in Moscow is that the two Moldovan citizens are in the care not of the Russian government, but of a non-governmental organization," the ministry said.

The members of the Moldovan delegation "are continuing to make efforts to meet with their compatriots who were freed from captivity and start the necessary procedures to immediately bring them back to Moldova," it said.

"Communication has been arranged with the organization indicated by the Russian authorities, and the members of the delegation are awaiting permission to meet with our citizens. All logistical preparations have been made so that they can be brought home at any moment," the ministry said.

The pilots gave a brief interview to Russia's NTV.

"Thank God, it's somewhat better now. We're getting treatment, have had all our test samples taken, and have been examined by specialists. We are coming to our senses physically and psychologically and are trying to forget everything, all those hardships and fear. We want to get back to normal and start living again. Now we are free and thank everyone who was involved: Moldovan President Igor Dodon, the Russian leadership, Mr. Chaika [Igor Chaika, a co-chairman of Business Russia]," Buruiana said.

On Tuesday, Moldovan President Igor Dodon told foreign ambassadors accredited in Chisinau about the liberation of the pilots.