(Correne Coetzer) "During the last 15 years we [Barneo Ice Camp Organizers] never, and I mean it, ever mislead the local [Norwegian] authorities [in Longyearbyen], and do not plan doing it in the future. Does the good reputation, built over that time, mean nothing anymore?” Irina Orlova, one of Barneo’s organizers, responded to false rumors on social media today.
Chechen paratroopers at Barneo
On April 4th Explorersweb posted news about paratroopers from Chechnya, who were airdropped at Barneo Ice Camp by the Ilyushin-76 from Murmansk in Russia, on an Arctic Training mission.
It is not the first time soldiers were airdropped from Murmansk to undergo training near the North Pole, for example in the 2015 season, the Military also conducted training in the Barneo area.
Today a rumor on social networks came to our attention, "A Chechnyan special forces team did a landing stop on Longyearbyen's airport against the Treaty, probably hidden as civilians - and then continued to North Pole where they parachuted down and performed an "attack". Everything cheered on Instagram by Kadyrov, Chechnya's leader."
Victor Boyarsky’s response
We checked in with Victor Boyarsky, veteran Russian Polar explorer, in Longyearbyen.
"As for Checnya paratroopers,” says Victor, "they jumped on April 3rd from the IL-76, which flew from Murmansk. No one of them was in Longyearbyen.”
"There was a group of people from Chechnya responsible for technical support (camp and so on), for those who jumped - and this group flew with our AN-74 from Moscow and after a brief stop in Longyear, flew to Barneo with first technical flight, on the 3rd out of Longyearbyen!”
"So there was nothing to do with the paratroopers in Longyear. It is separate program carried out by Ministry of Defence of Russia via Franz Joseph Land and they used our runway, as it was in 2014-2015."
Therefore, nothing was "against the Treaty” and no-one was "hidden as civilian”, as the rumor claimed.
The rumor continued, showing a bearded man in Longyearbyen in a photograph (left), apparently claiming it is Ramsan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader himself. Irina Orlova, in Longyearbyen, responded on this and more on Facebook.
Irina Orlova’s response
It's time to dot the i's and cross the t's. Today in FB, I again met accusals of the Barneo team in bringing the Chechen 'spetsnaz' disguised as tourists to Longyear.
I didn't react to these insinuations till our friends became engaged; they started to doubt our decency.
I'll explain, why all this is lie.
First of all, we use Antonov-74 airplane, which is not constructed for parachute jumps, but, as is well known, the 'dreadful Chechen spetsnaz' parachuted at Barneo.
Secondly, during the last 15 years we never, and I mean it, ever mislead the local authorities, and do not plan doing it in the future. Does the good reputation, built over that time, mean nothing anymore?
And the last, but, possibly, the most important thing, I'd like to point at. All our activities are under close control of the Longyear airport security service. On which ground those, talking of Chechen trace, accuse the security service of incompetence and carelessness in their duties? Because, then it is this service failed to detect Chechen soldiers, ostensibly disguised as tourists.
One more thing. There are many references to the photograph, taken in Longyear airport, where a bearded man (supposedly Ramsan Kadyrov himself) may be seen. To this, I can only remind that not each beard belongs to Kadyrov.
I really do hope that we don't have to talk of this issue again, and justify Barneo team for what we never did. Particularly, as many ways lead to Barneo, and those, who, for whatever reasons, cannot come via Longyear, may reach the Ice Base from Frantz-Josef Land, or Novaya Zemlya archipelagos. END
Barneo is a drifting ice base in the Arctic, which is annually established under the aegis of the Russian Geographical Society expedition center "Polyus" Russian Association of Polar Explorers.
It is a temporary Ice Camp, built by the Russians every North Pole ski season. The camp is built on a suitable ice floe inside 89 degrees North. Primarily the ice floe should be suitable to build a runway of at least 1200m long for an Antonov-74 to land from Longyearbyen, Svalbard. They, therefore, need a floe of at least 2km long and at east 40 meters away from the nearest open water (lead).
This year, when the ice floe was found on March 25, an Ilyushin-76 flew from Russia, dropped two tractors by parachute, as well as staff and other equipment to start clearing the runway. The tent camp that is built every year, serves as a base camp for skiers, tourists, runners and scientists.
The town of Longyearbyen is situated on the biggest Island of the Svalbard archipelago, Spitsbergen, inside the Arctic Circle, and under Norwegian rule. Svalbard had a total of 2,654 residents on January 1, 2016.
The Geographic North Pole is at 90 degrees North.
A degree of latitude is 110 km / 70 miles / 60 nautical miles.
Follow updates in the Daily Dispatch Streams of skiers, Barneo and more on Explorersweb and pythom.com (teams with RSS blog feeds).
Check Polar Jargon as explained on ThePoles.com
Barneo Ice Camp:
http://rgocenter.ru/blog/ RGO = Russian Geographical Society
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Irina Orlova Facebook
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