October 9, 2008

Over 40% of Russian Respondents Think Force Must Be Used Against Somali Pirates

MOSCOW. Oct 9 (Interfax) - Russian citizens think Somalia cannot solve the problem of piracy on its own and want force to be used to free sailors from captivity, a poll suggests.

Eighty-two percent of Russian citizens have heard reports about Somali pirates, according to a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation in 100 Russian localities on October 4 and 5.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said Somalia cannot uproot piracy on its own and only 14% have the opposite opinion.

About one third of Russian respondents (35%) said the Somali authorities are doing nothing to curb piracy. Eighteen percent of those questioned even think that the Somali leadership supports the pirates, and only 8% said the African country is fighting against piracy.

Pirates seized the ship Faina on September 25 as it was carrying military hardware, including more than 30 T-72 tanks, to Kenya. Initially, there were 17 Ukrainians, three Russians and one Latvian citizen aboard the ship. Reports were circulated on September 28 that the captain, a Russian citizens, had had a stroke and died. The latest reports indicate that the pirates demanded an $8 million ransom for the release of the crew.

Asked what position Russia should assume in this situation, 41% of respondents said force should be used to free the crew and 36% said a ransom should be paid.

A U.S. destroyer, four U.S. warships and British and French ships are patrolling the Faina.

The ship Neustrashimy of the Russian Baltic Fleet is heading to the coast of Somalia.

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