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Siberian man re-united with family after 54-day hostage ordeal in Syria

By The Siberian Times reporter
10 February 2013

Viktor Gorelov, 66, was kidnapped by armed Syrian rebels on 12 December during a work trip to the strife-torn country.

Kemerovo region Governor Aman Tuleyev has ordered the award of regional medal 'For Honor and Courage' to Viktor. Picture: sibdepo.ru

He was abducted with his Syrian interpreter who held a Russian passport and an Italian, Mario Belluomo.

'We didn't stay in one place for more than two or three days. We had two meals a day: tea, coffee, griddle cakes and canned food,'  said Viktor.

'We were given warm clothes and blankets for the night so that we wouldn't freeze. 

'However, there were some unpleasant moments when we had a feeling that we were living our last days and hours.'

Often their guards were excitable gun-toting 14 year old boys, he said. The hostages were released on 3 February  in exchange for militants captured by the Syrian army. 

Their release was a coup for the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian embassy in Syria who conducted painstaking but successful negotiations across both sides of the strife in Syria. Viktor returned to Moscow from Beirut before flying home to the Siberian city of Novokuznetsk early on Sunday.

His family, including his wife Nadezhda, daughter Tatyana and 11-year-old grandson Misha, welcomed him at the airport. 

Kemerovo region Governor Aman Tuleyev has ordered the award of regional medal 'For Honor and Courage' to Viktor.

The former hostage had worked at the West Siberian Metallurgical Plant for more than 40 years.

He went to work in Syria on contract from a Yekaterinburg-based firm on October 6 last year. He had previously worked abroad in India and China.

He had aimed to earn money at a steel plant in Syria to  help his son with housing and enable his daughter to buy a car.

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