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Daily Archives: August 27, 2009

Russia denies cargo ship on ‘secret mission’

A cargo ship hijacked under murky circumstances in the Baltic Sea last month was not on a "secret mission" and there is no evidence that it had an illegal cargo, Russian officials said yesterday.
The denial appeared aimed at cooling speculation that the Arctic Sea, a ship with a Russian crew that was seized by pirates last month and later recaptured by Russia's navy, had been carrying weapons or nuclear materials.
It was issued in a statement by the investigative committee of Russian prosecutors, which is investigating the incident.
"Reports in the foreign and Russian media about the supposed 'secret mission of the Arctic Sea' and the suppression of facts in the investigation into the kidnapping of the crew and piracy do not correspond to reality," it said.
"The investigation does currently not have any information that the ship could have carried any sort of illegal cargo," the committee added.
The committee also denied that 11 sailors from the Arctic Sea who have been brought back to Moscow were being kept in isolation and not being allowed to talk to their families.
Media reports that the sailors were being held incommunicado have fuelled speculation of a cover-up.
Earlier yesterday, the Tvoi Den tabloid reported that family members were only being allowed to speak to the sailors for two minutes at a time and that discussion of what happened on the ship was forbidden.
The Arctic Sea, a Maltese-flagged vessel that was officially carrying a load of timber to Algeria, was seized on July 23 in a busy shipping area of the Baltic Sea shortly after leaving a port in Finland.
It was recaptured weeks later by Russian warships off the Cape Verde islands and eight hijackers – two Russians, four Estonians and two Latvians – were arrested and taken to Moscow to face trial.

Obama ‘heartbroken’ over Kennedy death

US President Barack Obama said yesterday he was "heartbroken" over the death of Senator Edward Kennedy, saying his demise ended an important dynastic chapter in US political life.
"Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy," Obama said in a statement, issued as he vacationed in the well-heeled east coast resort of Martha's Vineyard.
"An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time."
Kennedy died late Tuesday at home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, not far from Obama's vacation spot, after fighting brain cancer for more than a year.