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Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it hopes
Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday it hopes the head of LUKoil Overseas in Libya, arrested in Tripoli on November 25, will be released soon.

"Russian Embassy officials in that country have already met with Alexander Tsygankov. The Russian Foreign Ministry and the embassy have taken energetic steps to clarify the reasons behind the Russian citizen's detention and to ensure his early release," ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said.

A respected Russian business daily, Vedomosti, quoted a Libyan official on Tuesday as saying that Tsygankov's arrest and the search of the company's offices were all connected to commercial espionage ahead of a December 9 tender for 12 gas sections in Libya, occupying 72.5 sq. km (28 square miles).

The Libyan official told the paper that his colleagues were investigating a confidential information leak about bids for the tender. A Foreign Ministry official said the main suspects were employees of Libya's national oil company.

Anatoly Martynov, the Russian Embassy counselor in Tripoli, confirmed the arrest to Vedomosti but said Tsygankov had not been officially charged. "He is more a witness in the case than a suspect," he said.

Oleg Fomin, the Russian consul in the north African country, said Tsygankov was in good health and was being held in acceptable conditions.

Libya holds Africa's second largest gas reserves estimated at 1.47 trillion cubic meters. The December tender is the first for the country's natural resources and involves 35 bidders, such as Gaz de France, Total, StatoilHydro, BP, Eni, ConocoPhillips, OMV, Wintershall, and Russian companies Gazprom, LUKoil Overseas and Novatek.

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