A leaked audio recording revealed what was said to be a phone call between the Head of the High Council of State, Khaled Al-Mashri, and a member of the Russian Values Protection Fund, Yunus Abazid, in which the first attempted to bargain with the Russian side in order to recognize the Government of National Accord in exchange for the release of two Russian researchers detained in Tripoli since May 2019.
According to the recording – whose authenticity was not verified by 218News at the time of writing this piece – Al-Mashri tried to arrange an interview for the Head of the Presidential Council of the Government of National Accord Fayez Al-Sarraj with Russian President Vladimir Putin, in exchange for facilitating the release of the researchers.
In what appeared to be an attempt to escalate the tone of the dialogue from compromise to blackmail, the Head of the High Council of State hinted at their ability to manipulate the judiciary and its verdicts on the case, as he tried to pressure Abazid by mentioning the possibility of helping the Russian researchers escape from facing judicial rulings if the Russian side agreed to convene a meeting for meet Al-Sarraj with Putin.
When the dialogue reached this point of escalation by Al-Mashri, the member of the Russian Values Protection Fund expressed surprise at the audacity of the Head of the High Council of State, which prompted him to bargain with a Russian official on the recognition of GNA for the release of citizens who were not charged with any acts other than violating the visa of residency duration, which is usually settled by paying financial fines.
It is noteworthy that in May 2019, GNA’s Special Deterrence Force arrested the two Russian sociologists, “Maxim Shogali” and “Samer Swivan”, on charges of espionage.
According to Russia, the two men were conducting a public opinion poll in Tripoli, prior to the Russian-African summit, with the knowledge and consent of Al-Sarraj.