Ship claim editor 'flees Russia'

Editor who linked authorities to Arctic Sea disappearance says he was warned off.

    The Arctic Sea cargo ship vanished in July, turning up in the Atlantic Ocean weeks later [EPA]

    Voitenko had commented extensively on the fate of the Arctic Sea, after it disappeared in the Atlantic Ocean.

    'Sounding the alarm'

    He had suggested the ship's crew had got caught up in a "big  game" involving several states.

    He was also one of the first people to speculate the hijack may have been connected to the ship carrying an illegal cargo such as nuclear materials or weapons.

    The editor said that the people he had allegedly upset were angry with him for sounding the alarm over the disappearance of the ship in the Atlantic Ocean in an August 8 posting.

    In a message posted on his website later on Thursday, the journalist wrote: "I would like to tell those who are not indifferent to me that I am on a business trip in Istanbul preparing several interesting reportages."

    Voitenko, who has been described as an eccentric, is widely regarded as a leading expert on shipping affairs.

    International hunt

    He had earlier called on the media to stop the hunt for the Arctic Sea crew and advised their relatives against any contacts with the press.

    The Maltese-flagged cargo ship's disappearance from radar after leaving a Finnish port on July 23 sparked an international hunt and intense speculation about its fate until the Russian navy said that it had retaken the ship.

    Late last month Russia charged eight suspects with kidnapping and piracy.

    Igor Kovalchuk, first deputy chairman of the Seafarers Union of Russia, described Voitenko as "a responsible man" but said he was puzzled as to why he had to leave the country in such a hurry.

    "I don't think that Mikhail covered something that wasn't in other media," he said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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