Sun, May 13, 2007 - Page 7 News List

Hostage situation at Russian embassy in Costa Rica resolved

AFP , SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

An armed man who allegedly held nine hostages inside the Russian embassy in Costa Rica for several hours on Friday surrendered to authorities and no one was harmed in the incident, police said.

Police had surrounded the embassy upon hearing that the man had seized nine hostages inside, including the Russian ambassador.

`private dispute'

But Russian Ambassador Valery Nikolaenko downplayed the reports of a hostage crisis, telling Telenoticias TV in a telephone call from inside the embassy before the man surrendered that the incident was a private dispute between two people, one of them armed.

Local TV showed two people clad in yellow raincoats being escorted by police off the embassy grounds after four hours of confusion and police spokesman Allan Fonseca confirmed that the situation had ended.

The drama started around 12:30pm when a man about 20 years old entered the building with his mother saying he was going to renew his passport, local media said.

Local TV identified the armed man as Roman Bordayan, a native of the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan who has been living in Costa Rica for a year.

Local reports said that Boradayan's family had ended up in the country after being swindled in a land deal done over the Internet.

passport renewal

But Boradayan found he could not renew his passport at the Russian embassy because he was from Kyrgyzstan, reports said.

After he entered the embassy on Friday, he reportedly grabbed a gun from an embassy guard and took the nine hostages, demanding a ransom of US$50,000 to set them free, the reports said.

Nikolaenko insisted, however, that the incident was nothing more than a fight between two citizens, one of whom was carrying a weapon.

"We are controlling the situation, which consists of two Russian citizens who are in a quarrel over a debt, locked in one of the rooms below the embassy," he said before the man gave himself up.

"With help from the Costa Rican police we tried to get them out in a non-violent manner," he said.

`no official motive'

Fonseca said police had "no official motive for the hostage seizing."

Just prior to the hostage-taker's surrender, Moscow demanded that the siege be brought to a swift resolution.

"We ask the Costa Rican forces of order to rapidly take the necessary measures to ensure the normalization of the situation at our embassy," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynine told local news agencies.

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