MOSCOW, September 28 - RAPSI. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, demanded at a meeting with his Libyan counterpart Ashour Bin Khayal on Thursday during the 67th UN General Assembly session in New York that the Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian citizens sentenced in Libya to lengthy prison terms should be returned home as soon as possible, the ministry reports on its website on Friday.

Two Russians, 19 Ukrainians and three Belarusians were arrested in Libya last fall. They were charged with supporting Qaddafi's forces during the hostilities. In early June, the Libyan authorities sentenced a Russian accused of coordinating the group to life imprisonment. The other defendants in the case were sentenced to 10 years in prison. The Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian foreign ministries said they would seek to have their citizens released.

"Lavrov put pressure on the question of the group of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian citizens arrested and sentenced in Libya to long prison terms. He confirmed the necessity of observing their rights in accordance with international standards and securing their return home as soon as possible," reads the report.

In early February 2011, mass protests broke out in Libya demanding the resignation of Muammar Qaddafi, who was in power for over 40 years. Eventually, they escalated into an armed tug-of-war between the ruling regime and the NATO-backed opposition forces. The opposition formed the Transitional National Council in Benghazi and called it the only legitimate authority in the country. Qaddafi was killed by the opposition troops near Sirte on October 20.