Suffering Russian National In Liberia Demands US$50,000 From UNHCR

By: J. Moses Gray / Editor

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 6, 2003

The owner of the once sailing vessel, M.V. Zolotitsa, the Russian, Mr. Gennady Pavlovich Medvedev is demanding from the Monrovia office of the UNHCR to pay the amount of US$50,000 for illegally using the vessel about three years ago.

The aggrieved Russian national told The INQUIRER that the UNHCR-Liberia office chartered the vessel to transport 450 refugees from Liberia to another West African country sometime in 1996.

According to him, the deal for the charter of his ship was done clandestinely by some unidentified persons in the country who rented his vessel to the UNHCR without reference to him.

He alleged that before the UNHCR could charter the vessel, information had been circulated around the world that the M.V. Zolotitsa has been stolen by certain unscrupulous persons hence needed to be impounded. That information caused the vessel to be subsequently impounded by the former Police Director, the late Col. Joseph B. Tate, upon its arrival at the Freeport of Monrovia. The Russian national, who is presently living on ‘hand-outs' due to hardship, said while the Zolotitsa was grounded at the Freeport, the UNHCR allegedly entered into an agreement with some unidentified persons to transport refugees around the sub-region.

From February to April 2001, Mr. Medvedev said the correspondent of Reuters in Liberia, Mr. Alphonso Tweh reportedly to get an appointment with the Director of Operations at the office of the UNHCR-Liberia, to ascertain the facts surrounding the chartering of the ship by that UN agency, but all was futile due to the alleged refusal of the UNHCR official to honor the appointment.

Speaking further, Mr. Medvedev said he personally made several contacts with the UNHCR office on the payment of the US$50,000 but said he was always prevented by the security to see the appropriate authorities.

As to the present whereabouts of the ship, Mr. Medvedev explained that his vessel was allegedly stolen from the Freeport of Monrovia by unidentified individuals and moved to the Port of Harper, Maryland County.

According to him, all attempts to retrieve his vessel from the Port of Harper have proved futile, as the County Superintendent, Mr. Morais claims to have purchased the vessel at US$65,000. The superintendent however, did not give the name of the person from whom he bought the vessel in question.

The Russian national said in a bid to retrieve his vessel from the Port of Harper, he took advantage of the Liberian legal system through the courts at the Temple of Justice but without results, adding that "I am shocked with the attitude of the courts towards me in the case".

He told The INQUIRER that the vessel while at the port of Harper, has been vandalized by unidentified individuals, resulting to the sinking of the vessel in the Atlantic Ocean while the vessel's captain Mr. Vladimir Tiuskin has died, while in that county.

‘I have now been left with absolutely nothing, I am just surviving on hand-outs from friends and people of good will ‘, Mr. Medvedev said in tears. It has been a little over four years since a determined Russian national and owner of the famous sailing vessel ‘Zolotitsa', Mr. Medvedev arrived in the country in search of his stolen vessel, but that dream is yet to be realized.

The Russian national who arrived in the country on 11th November, 1999, via Conakry, walked into the offices of The INQUIRER this week and gave details of his ordeal, demanding justice.

Mr. Medvedev, who appeared very frustrated with tears set in his eyes, wondered why he should be denied justice on the issue of his vessel which, he claims, is presently with the Superintendent of Maryland County, Mr. H. Dan Morais. However, Supt. Morias has persistently denied any involvement.

"I am suffering, I need justice, I will not leave Liberia without getting justice", the frustrated and downhearted Russian national noted, adding that his four years of stay in the country has been characterized with grave suffering and frustration.

According to the suffering Russian, he has been living at the mercy of his Muslim brothers and sisters in the country, who usually pity his appalling condition.

Apart from the Muslim brothers and sisters, Mr. Medvedev, named members of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and other friendly Liberians of rendering him some assistance to help him meet up with his daily challenges, as he presses forth for justice on his stolen vessel issue.

"Meanwhile, Mr. Medvedev has commended all those who have been rendering him assistance during the past four years in the country, and at the same time is appealing to them to continue their kind gesture towards him, as he struggles to gain justice in Liberia.

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.