Traveller from Tomsk taken prisoner by Islamist group in Syria
Konstantin Zhuravlyov, a traveller from Tomsk, has been captured in Syria by the Liwa-al-Tawhid unit, which suspects him of being a spy. Regional governor Sergei Zhvachkin has contacted the Russian ambassador in the republic and offered to help in the search for Zhuravlyov, according to a statement from the Tomsk Region Government that Sib.fm's correspondent examined on 14th October.
Traveller and photographer from Tomsk Konstantin Zhuravlyov, who had previously travelled around the world by hitchhiking, has been taken prisoner in Syria by radical grouping Liwa-al-Tawhid, which suspects him of being a spy.
Zhuravlyov was planning to go to the Sahara desert in October 2013 and spend 21 days there blindfolded and with his ears covered in order to "reveal/activate/expand his inner capabilities in extreme conditions for the body, alone with himself".
On 12 October 2013, Zhuravlyov's friends spread information on social networking sites about the fact that the traveller had been captured by representatives of radical Islamist group Liwa-al-Tawhid.
"Shamel News reports that a Russian spy who was working for Russian and Syrian intelligence has been arrested in Aleppo and that a video soon will be posted of his interrogation with an admission of espionage," said a statement on Tomsk site ludytomska.ru. A photograph of the traveller's passport with the group's logo superimposed on it was also published.
According to the website of the Tomsk Region Government, local Governor Sergei Zhvachkin contacted Azamat Kulmuhametov, the Russian Ambassador to Syria, on 13 October.
"Mr Kulmuhametov said the embassy is doing everything possible to find Konstantin and return him to Russia. For our part, we are ready to provide all necessary assistance to our country's diplomatic mission in Syria," he said.
On October 13, Syrian opposition publication Shamel News wrote on its Facebook page that the editorial office has received numerous reports that 32-year-old Zhuravlyov is a famous traveller and could not be a spy.
"We rule out the possibility that he is an ordinary tourist. How can there be tourism in a country where fierce battles are taking place and whose people are being killed, kidnapped and thrown out of their homes. However, we will submit his case to the fair Islamic justice system, which will make its decision," stated the media outlet's response, translated from Arabic by Zhuravlyov's supporters.
According to information on the traveller's website, Konstantin Zhuravlyov graduated from Tomsk State University of Control Systems and Radio Electronics in 2003, after which he worked for R&D Centre Polyus and company Tomtel. In 2010, Zhuravlyov set off on a round-the-world hitchhiking trip, which lasted 777 days.
To recap, at the beginning of October 2013 athlete and former Novosibirsk State University student Ekaterina Ustyuzhaninova provoked a militant attack on the Russian Embassy in Libya by killing a local officer and wounding his mother.