President Viktor Yushchenko hails a successful completion of a release operation for 24 Ukrainian sailors from the Ariana bulker, who had been held captive by Somali pirates since May 2, 2009, the presidential press-service has reported.

Yushchenko stressed that hard work and 'difficult and tense negotiations' prefaced the successful operation.

“The sailors will be soon deployed to Ukraine by a Ukrainian airplane,” the head of state said.

As reported, Ariana's Greek owners have today said Somali pirates paid a ransom for the vessel.

“We have today paid the ransom and we are waiting when the pirates free the Ariana,” Spyros Minas, the director of the Athens-based All Ocean Shipping company, announced but refused to disclose the ransom amount.

The Ariana, a Maltese-flagged ship was carrying 24 Ukrainian crew when it was seized on May 2 north of Madagascar en route to the Middle East from Brazil. The ship belongs to Alloceans shipping in Greece. The vessel is operated by Greece's Alloceans Shipping Cо. Ltd.


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