Syrian rebels will release traveller from Tomsk in exchange for arrested wives

 04/22/2014, 15:49
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Syrian rebels will release traveller from Tomsk in exchange for arrested wives
screenshot from Zhuravlyov’s video message from Syrian captivity

The Syrian armed group that has been holding Tomsk traveller Konstantin Zhuravlyov captive since October 2013 has agreed to set him free in exchange for the rebels’ wives, jailed by Assad; talks with the Syrian government will be held by social movement Alternative, Oleg Melnikov, head of the movement, told Sib.fm’s correspondent on 21 April.

The negotiations of social movement Alternative with Syrian group Liwa-al-Tawhid, who took traveller from Tomsk Konstantin Zhuravlyov captive, have produced their first results.

The rebels have agreed to transfer the traveller to a safe place away from the fighting, as well as provide him with a doctor. A new video message from the prisoner came out in April. In addition, they managed to agree on the terms for Zhuravlyov’s release: the members of the opposition agreed to release him in exchange for the release of three of their wives, who were imprisoned by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because of their husbands.

«We had one requirement regarding the people that they suggest exchanging Konstantin for: they shouldn’t have participated in hostilities,» explained Melnikov.

As Melnikov told Sib.fm’s correspondent, talks will be held with the Syrian government in the near future, and an agreement has been reached for representatives of the movement to meet the Syrian ambassador.

«They can’t not accept these conditions: Lebanese journalists were exchanged for able-bodied men who fought on the side of the opposition for a very long time. At the end of the day, Russia is a more important strategic partner than Lebanon,» he added.

According to Zhuravlyov, these negotiations were carried out at the initiative of Alternative and the Russian Foreign Ministry did not take part in them.

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To recap, traveller and photographer from Tomsk Konstantin Zhuravlyov, who previously hitch-hiked around the world, was captured by radical Syrian group Liwa-al-Tawhid in October 2014; he was suspected of spying for Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.

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