Russia appeals for swift release of nationals held by Hamas

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Russia’s Human Rights Commissioner said on Tuesday she had issued a fresh appeal to senior UN and other officials to take action to secure the release of Russian nationals still held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Tatyana Moskalkova, writing on the Telegram messaging app, said she had launched the appeal after meeting in Moscow with relatives of those still being held.

“In one conversation, one of the mothers told me details of the situation of those being held,” she wrote.

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News reports have put at eight the number of hostages holding Russian passports, including three who were released.

Moskalkova said she had appealed to the UN High Commissioner For Human Rights, Volker Turk, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric, and other officials “for the rapid return home of our compatriots.”

Gunmen took around 250 hostages back to Gaza after a mass attack on Israel last Oct. 7 and more than 100 were released in exchange for about 240 Palestinians held in Israeli jails in November.

There are 116 hostages left in Gaza, according to Israeli tallies, including at least 40 whom Israeli authorities have declared dead in absentia.

Russia has sought to speak to both sides in the conflict in Gaza and a Hamas delegation visited Moscow last year. But President Vladimir Putin has said the violence in the region exposed the failure of US policy, particularly in considering the needs of the Palestinians.

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