During peace negotiations with the ELN in Quito, Ecuador last week, Colombian authorities in Chocó requested the leaders of the ELN to return the human remains of Arsen Voskanyan, a 42-year-old Russian citizen who was shot repeatedly when he tried to escape from his abductors and snatched a grenade from one of his captors, according to ELN reports.
Modesto Serna, Choco’s peace advisor, condemned the fact that the ELN has kidnapped people, brought them to the jungle and then murdered them, often keeping their remains in order to ransom them. He requested the ELN to return the remains of the Russian citizen to his family so that they can properly bid farewell to their loved one.
“We condemn that a person, from whichever nationality, is deprived of his life. We need a humanitarian agreement in order for the family of this individual to recover the remains of their loved one, and for him to have a proper burial”, he said.
In April of the this year, the ELN declared that Voskanyan managed to escape, but was severely injured. From that moment, Colombia’s Titan Joint Task Force of Chocó (Fuerza Tarea Conjunta Titán de Chocó) performed exhaustive search and rescue operations, without knowing that he was already dead, according to General Mauricio Mosquera.
“The ELN once more confirms that they are a group of murders and kidnappers. We didn’t ever stop looking for the Russian citizen. We are willing to support the family on their needs and will also support any humanitarian work”, he said.
The Russian citizen was reportedly kidnapped on November 5, 2016 when he was collecting poisonous frogs to traffic with them in Asia.
The Colombian government recently reached a cease-fire agreement with ELN terrorists, though most doubt that it will hold as the ELN lacks a central authority and most units operate independently. Though nominally a marxist group, the ELN has predominantly been involved in the drug trade, extortion and other criminal activity over the past two decades.