KIEV, June 23 (RIA Novosti) - A ransom of $1.3 million was paid to Somali pirates for the release of a Dutch vessel, the head of Ukraine's Foreign Intelligence Service said at a news conference on Tuesday.
The pirates seized the Netherlands Antilles-flagged MV Marathon, owned by Western Marine Transport NV and operated by the Dutch Cargadoor Amons & Co. on May 7. The vessel, which had eight Ukrainians on board, was released on Tuesday.
Mykola Malomuzh said the Foreign Intelligence Service helped the ship owners negotiate with the pirates.
"There is as yet no functioning system in the fight against piracy on an international level," Malomuzh said, adding that Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko had put forward an initiative that was supported by the world community.
A welder on board the Marathon, Sergei Vartenkov, was reported to have died, though no information has been received as to the cause of his death.
A total of 26 Ukrainians are still held hostage by Somali pirates - 24 on the Ariana cargo vessel and another two on the German container vessel Hansa Stavanger.
According to the UN, Somali pirates carried out at least 120 attacks on ships in 2008, resulting in ransom payments of around $150 million.