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Ukraine opposition party raises funds to free captive crew

16.10.2008 Source: <noindex><a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.en.rian.ru/" target="_blank">en.rian.ru</a></noindex>
<b>A Ukrainian opposition party said on Wednesday it had started a fundraising campaign to raise the $8 million ransom demanded by Somali pirates for the release of the MK <i>Faina</i> vessel and its crew. </b>
The <i>Faina</i>, carrying at least 33 tanks and other heavy weaponry, was seized by Somali pirates on September 25. The pirates are also holding hostage 17 Ukrainian nationals, two Russians, and one Lithuanian.
The fund-raising campaign was launched by the Party of Regions, led by Russia-friendly Viktor Yanukovych.
A high-ranking Ukrainian official has said that President Viktor Yushchenko is closely monitoring the situation around the <i>Faina</i>.
Family members of the captive Ukrainians gathered outside the offices of the Ukrainian president on Monday, demanding an audience with Yushchenko.
The ship's captain, Russian Vladimir Kolobkov, died of a heart attack shortly after the ship was seized. The Faina is currently surrounded by six U.S. warships.

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