Families of Russian-Israeli hostages visit Moscow seeking help in freeing captives

Siblings of Roni Krivoi met with and thanked Russian Deputy FM Bogdanov for assisting with their brother’s release, described as a ‘gesture’ by Hamas to the Kremlin

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Relatives of released Israeli-Russian hostage Roni Krivoi meet in Russia with Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, on November 27, 2023. (Russian Foreign Ministry, used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Relatives of released Israeli-Russian hostage Roni Krivoi meet in Russia with Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, on November 27, 2023. (Russian Foreign Ministry, used in accordance with clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Relatives of Israeli-Russian hostages being held captive by Hamas in Gaza are in Moscow to seek the Kremlin’s assistance in getting their family members released by the terror organization, after Moscow assisted in the release of Roni Krivoi on Sunday.

Krivoi’s siblings, who flew out with representatives from three other families on Sunday, met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov on Monday to thank him for helping with their brother’s release.

In a move that took most in Israel by surprise, Krivoi was released in a separate agreement from the Qatar-brokered hostage release agreement between Israel and Hamas which has been implemented over the last four days, apparently as a favor by the terror group to Moscow.

In a statement on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry quoted Bogdanov as saying that Krivoi was released as a “gesture” to Russia by Hamas. The Kremlin requested that the terror group work to release as many as eight hostages with Russian citizenship soon after the October 7 atrocities.

Bogdanov said during the meeting with Krivoi’s siblings that he hopes more Russian nationals being held hostage are released going forward.

The Russian deputy foreign minister, who is also Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Middle East envoy, met with Hamas’s head of international relations Mousa Abu Marzouk in Moscow, on October 26 together with Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani.

From left to right: Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Putin’s Special Envoy to the Middle East Mikhail Bogdanov, and Hamas head of international relations Mousa Abu Marzouk, during a trilateral meeting in Moscow on October 26, 2023. (Hamas Telegram channel)

Marzouk said at the time that dual Israeli-Russian nationals would be released because “we consider Russia to be a closest [sic] friend.”

Representatives of the three other Israeli-Russian families whose family members are still being held captive by Hamas have remained in Moscow to try and obtain further assistance from Russia to get their relatives released as well, Channel 12 reported.

Related: Israeli-Russian released by Hamas had escaped for 4 days, was recaptured in Gaza

When Krivoi’s brother and sister, Igor and Yulia, flew out to Moscow on Sunday, they were unaware that their brother was being released until they arrived in the Russian capital, and were told after they landed.

“We are grateful for all the work of the Russian Federation. For continuing it and helping to return all the other hostages. We see the results,” Igor and Yulia said during Monday’s meeting with Bogdanov, according to a press release put out by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“Let’s hope so,” Bogdanov replied, adding that nothing had been given to Hamas in return for Krivoi’s release.

Israel’s relations with Russia have become increasingly tense in recent months.

A spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry condemned Israel on Monday for an airstrike it said it carried out in Syria against Damascus airport, which hit the runway and rendered the airport inoperable.

The spokesperson described the strike as “as a gross violation of the sovereignty of this state and the basic norms of international law,” and said that Russia “strongly condemn[s] Israel’s provocative attack on an important facility of Syrian civilian infrastructure.”

Back in October, Israel denounced Moscow for hosting the Hamas delegation, describing the meeting as “an obscene step that gives support to terrorism and legitimizes the atrocities of Hamas terrorists.”

Earlier on Monday, Krivoi’s aunt, Elena Magid, revealed that her nephew had actually managed to escape his captors at one stage after he was taken hostage, and hid in Gaza for four days before being recaptured.

Russian-Israeli Roni Krivoi is seen inside the International Red Cross vehicle at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt ahead of his transfer to Israel on November 26, 2023. (Screenshot)

Magid told Kan public radio that Krivoi had told her he had initially been held in a building that ended up collapsing as a result of IDF airstrikes, enabling him to flee his captors.

“He managed to escape and hid alone for several days. In the end, the Gazans captured him and returned him to the terrorists’ hands,” she said.

Magid said she thought Krivoi was not able to understand exactly where he was or where to escape to, leading to his eventual recapture.

She added that despite some stitches on his head, Krivoi is healthy and in good physical condition.

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