Oregon Man Recalls Russian Kidnapping

Ransom photo of Andrew Probst and Travis Tuttle – March 1998

Not many people can say they’ve been kidnapped and held hostage in Russia.  But that’s the case for Andrew Probst, who grew up Lebanon, Oregon.

In March 1998, Probst was a Mormon missionary working in Saratov, Russia.  He, along with his companion Travis Tuttle, were kidnapped and held for ransom.

Probst says the trouble began when an article about the Mormon Church’s money assets appeared in TIME magazine.

“These guys were reading this article and a light bulb kind of went on,” says Probst. “These Americans, they either have money from their families or from the Church. We’ll make a quick buck off these guys.”

The kidnappers were demanding $300,000 for the safe return of Probst and Tuttle.   Officials inside the U.S. Government quickly became involved, including President Clinton and former Oregon Senator Gordon Smith.

At the time, a statement from the church said it wouldn’t pay ransoms, to prevent similar acts from occurring world wide.  Andrew Probst’s parents, Lee and Marry, were kept apprised of the news, but were told very little.

After 5 days, one of the captors decided to let the pair go – driving them 45 minutes away and dropped off in the snow.

Probst, who now lives in Boise, Idaho with his family, says it’s something he thinks about every day.

“This is nothing. You’ve over come more than this,” he says when things get tough. “You can get over this hump, no problem.”

The ordeal is now the focus of a new movie, The Saratov Approach, which is being released on Blu-Ray and DVD today.  Larry King is praising the movie, calling it “Intense, Dramatic and Beautifully Acted.”



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