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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Protests to Sudan Over Helicopter Crew

Russia on Monday demanded the release of a helicopter crew detained in Sudan a week ago, lodging an official protest with the African country and warning it will face "unpleasant consequences" if the crew members are not freed.

The Foreign Ministry said it summoned Sudan's charge d'affaires to its headquarters and announced the protest, demanding the immediate release of the Mi-26 and its crew.

A ministry statement said Russia has not received a definitive explanation and demanded that the crew be allowed to leave Sudan and continue a mission it said was being carried out under a contact with the United Nations.

"We decidedly demand that this intolerable situation be put to an end. Otherwise the consequences for the Sudanese side may be most unpleasant," Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov said, Interfax reported.

Later in the day, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told Rossia television that Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov spoke by telephone with Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail and expressed hope that Sudan would do everything it could to see that the crew is allowed to continue on its journey.

Speaking on Channel One television, the Sudanese charge d'affaires said he thought the dispute would be resolved within the next two days.

"I think today or tomorrow they will be released and all questions will be answered," Fadlalla Elhadi Ibragim said.

The demand -- the second in four days from the Foreign Ministry -- came a day after Sudan's foreign minister said an investigation is under way into the cargo helicopter and its crew, detained July 21 in the western city of al-Fasher. Sudan's official news agency said there were "suspicions" about the helicopter.

Meanwhile, protesters from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party rallied Monday at the Sudanese Embassy in Moscow, demanding quick action from both Sudan and the Foreign Ministry.