Seized Russian ship to be sold

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A Russian cruise ship seized by Canadian authorities over unpaid debts will be sold and its skeleton crew is to return home on December 11, a Russian consular official said Wednesday.

Seven crew members, including the captain of the Lyubov Orlova, which was seized in September at a Canadian port, had remained to provide maintenance for the vessel while its owner and Canadian debtors negotiated its fate.

Dozens of other crew members were repatriated three weeks ago with the help of the Russian government.

The Russian owner of the Lyubov Orlova had looked in vain for a buyer in order to avoid it being auctioned off by the Ottawa government at a cut rate to pay back a 250,000-dollar debt owed to a Canadian company that had chartered it, an official said.

The Lyubov Orlova's 51 crew had been stuck in Saint John's, Newfoundland since September 25.

A lawyer for charter company Cruise North Expeditions, Isabelle Pillet, said the company had paid the ship's owner in advance for summer adventure tours of northern Labrador, which did not occur.

The ship's crew also claimed four months of unpaid wages in a Canadian court.

© 2010 AFP

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