The Foreign Ministry on Monday confirmed the death of Russian hostages who worked at its embassy in Iraq, a day after an Al-Qaeda-linked group said it had killed the four captives. The group, the Mujahedeen Shura Council, had posted a video on a Web site that showed the killing of three of four Russian workers who were kidnapped June 3. A statement from the group said the fourth was also slain.
"It is with deep pain that we report that the seizure of the workers of the Russian Embassy in Iraq has, judging by everything, ended in an irremediable way despite all efforts taken for the freeing of our people," the statement from the Foreign Ministry said.
The kidnappers had demanded the Kremlin pull its troops out of Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia where separatists have been fighting for independence.
Moscow vehemently opposed the US-led military campaign and has continued to keep its distance from Washington on the issue of Iraq. Four Russian workers were killed in ambushes in Iraq in 2004. "We demand that the Iraqi government and the command of the multinational forces do everything possible to ensure that none of the criminals involved in the murder of our citizens escapes punishment," the statement said.
The Interfax news agency cited Anatoly Safonov, President Vladimir Putin's envoy for anti-terrorism, as saying that Russia would do everything possible to bring the diplomats' abductors to justice. The report did not specify what measures Russia was considering taking.