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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Air company "Sayahat" opens inner investigation on supposed arms traffic to Somalia

Kazakhstan today

ALMATY. The air company "Sayahat" has started its own investigation of an incident related with supposed arms export from Kazakhstan to Somalia. Vladimir Kuropatenko, CEO of "Sayahat," has stated this at a press conference today, August 9, Kazakhstan Today correspondent reports.

"The Mogadishu airport has been closed since 15 July, 2003, and flights to that airport are banned because of military actions that take place there. The plance could enter there only by a pirate way. Currently are specialists are investigating, who sould land in that airport," - he stressed. Besides, according to the CEO of "Sayahat," the company specialists will find out where the photos of the plane supposedly belonging to the Kazkahstani company were made. "It is unclear where exactly the pictures of the plane were made by the electronic media. We suspect that it is not the Mogadishu airport," - he has noted.

The CEO of "Sayahat" is also doubtful about the Kazakhstani flag on the board of the plane supposedly seen by the journalist. "The colours of "Sayahat" vessels can be found on our website. Our colours are absolutely different from the symbols described by the journalist. One the keel there is the brand of "Sayahat." These symbols were approved by the civil aviation committee. Only the presidential company "Berkut" has a right to put the flag on the keel. That is only our president can fly under the Kazakhstani flag. It is really doubtful that an Il-76 with the Kazakhstani flag could land in Somalia," - he has observed.

According to Mr. Kuropatenko, "this publication damages not only the air company, but also the whole state. As a citizen of Kazakhstan I am going to sue this journalist," - he has said. In the nearest 30 days, according to the law, there will be a court session either in Kazakhstan, or on the territory of another state.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan denied information about possible exports of arms from Kazakhstan to Somalia. "With reference to information published by a number of media about illegal exports of military freights by an airplane Il-76, supposedly with Kazakhstani symbols, to Mogadisho, Somalia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan is authorised to declare that the Republic of Kazakhstan has nothing to do with this fact and that it has never exported any arms to that country," - an MFA spokesperson said.

Besides, according to Mr. Kuropatenko, "from 25.06.2006 until today the air company "Sayahat" has not carried out any cargo shipments. That is we don't deal with cargo shipments for two months. In the period from 25.06.2006 two Il-76 planes were in Uralsk two other Il-76 were in Almaty," - Mr. Kuropatenko has stressed.
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