Russian maritime piracy expert Mikhail Voitenko, who was one of the prime sources on the mysterious saga of the Finnish-owned cargo ship, Arctic Sea, has fled Russia. Speaking in Istanbul, Mr Voitenko said “some serious guys” advised him to leave Russia and not to return before three to four months. Asked who those people were, he replied: “Guess.”
Mr Voitenko did confirm that he was pressured to leave Russia because of his role in reporting about the events surrounding the alleged hijacking of the Arctic Sea. As editor-in-chief of the Sovfracht Maritime Bulletin, he followed the Arctic Sea saga very closely, seeing political overtones in the story.
Russian authorities claim the ship was hijacked off the Swedish coast on 24 July 2009. The ship and its crew were purportedly “freed” by the Russian navy near Cabo Verde on 17 August 2009. There are, however, many questions about what exactly happened with the ship. Mr Voitenko expressed serious doubts about the official version of events.
Speaking at a news conference after the Arctic Sea was reported found, Mr Voitenko said the ship’s crew got tangled in a plot involving state interests. There were reports that the ship, which was carrying a a cargo of timber from Finland to Algeria, may have been actually carrying arms to Iran.