Relatives and families of the hijacked Ukrainian ship have raised money to pay Somali pirates who are demanding eight million U.S. dollars to release the crew who were seized last month, a regional maritime official said on Sunday, Xinhua reported.

Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers` Assistance Program said the relatives and friends in Russian and Ukraine have raised eight million dollar ransom which is expected to be handed over to the pirates sometimes this week.

"Friends and relatives of the 17 Ukrainian crew members of the ill-fated MV Faina have collected money for ransom," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone on Sunday.

"Most of the money had come from leading politicians including the former Ukraine Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych," he said.

The development, however, contradicts the position taken by the Kenyan government which has maintained that it will not pay ransom, arguing that such move would encourage the continuation of such acts.


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