Arctic Sea: It is all about Photographs

cargo offloaded to this tanker, Iman

Anton Surikov, a Russian security expert and former military intelligence officer, advances the theory that smugglers, with the backing of elements in Russia's security services, may have loaded ammunition and anti-tank missiles bound for Hizbollah in Lebanon, and four Kh-55 cruise missiles to be fitted to Sukhoi-24 bombers for Iran, on to the ship as it underwent repairs in Kaliningrad.

Mr Surikov says he believes that when the the ship was boarded in the dead of night on July 24 off Sweden, the attackers found the weapons cache, photographed it as evidence and left.

His scenario fits with initial reports conveyed by police in Sweden that the crew reported being attacked by about 10 men posing as Swedish policemen who searched the ship and departed in an inflatable dinghy. The photos were then shown, thinks Mr Surikov, to the UK and US security services - which arranged a second incursion as the Arctic Sea disappeared on August 1.

Nikolai Chemakin, the Arctic Sea's technical superintendent in Arkhangelsk has just returned from a trip to the Canary Islands, where Russian prosecutors investigating the ship refused to let him on board. "Something changed when he got there and we don't know why," says Captain Ivan Boyko, deputy head of Solchart Arkhangelsk, an offshoot of the Russian-controlled Finnish company that operates the Arctic Sea,. "I'm not God so I don't know what happened but I'm sure our men could not have been involved in shipping weapons." Solchart sent a Russian from Arkhangelsk to investigate the Russians from Arkhangelsk onboard.

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