MOSCOW – The two Russians taken hostage in Iraq are "alive and healthy," the head of their firm said Wednesday, but authorities still don't know where they are being held.
"We have encouraging information that our people who were seized in Iraq are alive and healthy," Alexander Abramov, general director of Interenergoservis (search), said according to the Interfax news agency. "But where they are being held we don't know."
Other Russian media reports said that the condition of the hostages was not known.
Deputies in Russia's lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved a statement Wednesday calling on Russian companies to "quickly and responsibly" reconsider the deployment of Russian citizens in Iraq.
The Interenergoservis employees were attacked Monday in Musayyib (search), about 37 miles south of Baghdad, where they worked at the Southern Baghdad power station, said a Russian diplomat in Baghdad. One worker was killed, and two others taken hostage.
The Interfax news agency identified the two seized workers as 27-year-old Alexander Gordiyenko and Andrei Meshcheryakov, 33.
Noting that Russia opposed the U.S.-led war and that the kidnapped men were civilian specialists, Russia's State Duma (search) said that "a conclusion can be drawn that the occupation powers have practically lost control of the situation in the country, creating a serious threat to the security of everyone currently in Iraq."
In a 306-1 vote with one abstention, the lawmakers called on the occupying authorities to investigate and find those responsible for the abduction and also take measures to prevent "similar excesses in the future."
The State Duma said this could be accomplished by ending what it called the disproportionate use of force, ensuring the involvement of Iraqis in resolving the crisis in their nation and ending the "scandalous practice of the inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners by the occupying military."
Meanwhile, Abramov told Interfax that the workers were seized when they stopped Monday on their way to work "to get a bite to eat."
"Someone noticed that they weren't locals and began following them," Abramov said. Within 15 minutes, they were being pursued, fired at and the two men were taken hostage, he said, according to Interfax.
Three Russian and five Ukrainian employees of Interenergoservis were abducted in Iraq last month, but were released unharmed the next day. Interenergoservis had said that 340 foreign nationals currently are working for the company in Iraq.