On October 1, the Lebanese government asked INTERPOL to detain two Russians over the August explosion in the capital city of Beirut. The blast killed almost 200 people, wounded thousands, and led to billions of dollars in damages across the city.

Lebanon asked INTERPOL to arrest the Russian captain and the owner of the ship that brought the ammonium nitrate into the port of Beirut seven years ago, which was ultimately responsible for the massive explosion.

Shortly after the explosion, INTERPOL’s Incident Response Team (IRT) was called to assist local authorities in Beirut. The IRT assisted the Lebanese government in their emergency response and investigation. 

The state-run media news network, the National News Agency (NNA), said that nearly 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate were stored in Beirut’s port and exploded on August 4, killing 193 people, wounding 6,500, and leaving about 300,000 people homeless. The ammonium nitrate, a material used in fertilizer but occasionally in explosives, was stored in poor conditions in the port for several years.

The blame is landing heavily on Lebanese authorities, who stand accused of years of negligence. Following the blast, nearly 20 people, including port and customs officials, have been detained. This is currently considered the largest non-nuclear explosion ever recorded.

The NNA announced last Thursday that Lebanon’s public prosecution asked INTERPOL to issue arrest warrants for the Russian owner and captain of the ship, following the referral by judge Fadi Sawwan.

While NNA did not directly reveal the names of the two men named in the INTERPOL notices, Russian national Boris Prokoshev was the captain who sailed the ship, the Moldovan-flagged Rhosus, from Turkey to Beirut in 2013. The owner of the ship, Igor Grechushkin, a Russian businessman living in Cyprus, bought the vessel in 2012.

Shortly after the blast, Grechushkin was questioned by police following a request by IINTERPOL’s Lebanon office.

After the MV Rhosus arrived at the port of Beirut in 2013, it never left due to legal disputes over port fees and ship defects. Shipping records reported the ammonium nitrate was acquired in Georgia before it made an unscheduled detour into Beirut.

State security reports, released in August by Reuters, showed that the ship was impounded by Beirut’s port authorities shortly after it arrived. By 2014, the ship’s cargo was all unloaded into a warehouse known as Hangar 12. This would become the focal point of the explosion 6 years later.

The report also revealed that the ship sank near the port in February 2018.