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By John Helmer in Moscow

The owner of the stranded Russian cruise ship, Lyubov Orlova, has failed to meet a deadline this week for selling the vessel and paying its debts.

The vessel is under a Canadian court arrest order at St. John’s port in Newfoundland, after vessel suppliers and the crew’s union, the International Federation of Transport Workers, sought to protect their claims against the vessel owner. Sources in St. John’s have told Fairplay that the crew — 49 Russians, 2 Ukrainians – had been told the vessel owner, Oleg Ulyanchenko, had promised to pay their salaries and clear the vessel’s other debts with the proceeds of selling off the Lyubov Orlova to a buyer he had found. Ulyanchenko then asked for 12 days to finalize the transaction.

However, the crew’s union representative in Vladivostok, Pyotr Osichansky, told Fairplay today that this deadline had expired on Monday without action from Ulyanchenko. A union representative in Newfoundland is quoted by the local media as saying that the union will apply for a fresh court order to sell the ship.

Osichansky confirms reports from St.John’s that the Russian Embassy in Ottawa is arranging to pay the airfares for the crew to be repatriated. The crew claim for more than $270,000 in past-due salaries is pending in the Newfoundland court, and may be paid if and when the vessel is sold on a court order.

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