Russian officials say North Korea has released detained yacht

MOSCOW (AFP) - A Russian yacht detained by North Korean coast guards was released on Sunday (May 15) and has set sail for the far-eastern city of Vladivostok, Russian officials said.

"The Russian yacht Elfin today left the North Korean port of Kimchaek headed for Vladivostok," Denis Samsonov, a spokesman for the Russian embassy in Pyongyang told Russian state television on Sunday.

Yury Bokcharev, Russia's consul in the city of Chongjin, told Russia's RIA Novosti news agency that local North Korean officials had said the boat's detention was a "misunderstanding".

Another diplomatic official in Vladivostok, Igor Agafonov, told the RIA Novosti agency that the five-member crew of the yacht had been in contact and confirmed that they were sailing home.

 

The Russian sailboat was detained by North Korean coast guards late on Friday as it sailed through the Sea of Japan, also known as East Sea, from a competition in the South Korean city of Busan to its home city of Vladivostok.

Russia's foreign ministry said on Saturday that a note was sent to the North Korean authorities seeking an explanation for the boat's detention.

Russia shares a short land border with North Korea and enjoys relatively friendly ties with the country's reclusive Stalinist regime.