Russia to do its utmost to return detained fishing vessel crew, senior diplomat promises
The Russian Foreign Ministry will use every effort to return home the crew of Russia’s Nord fishing vessel detained in Ukraine, Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told TASS on Monday.
"We will continue making every effort to settle the situation around the unfortunate Russian fishermen, return them to their homeland and put an end to the two weeks of abuse that these people [endured]," Karasin emphasized.
On March 25, the Ukrainian Border Guard Service detained a vessel flying the Russian flag with a crew of ten Russian citizens, the residents of the Crimean city of Kerch, in the Sea of Azov.
The Ukrainian authorities accused the crew "of violating the procedure on entry" to the [so-called] "temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and exit from it," which entails a penalty or an administrative arrest for 15 days.
The fishing vessel’s captain is charged with "violating the procedure of entry to the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine and exit from it for the purpose of causing damage to the state’s interests," which stipulates a prison term of up to five years and also the confiscation of the ship. The ship was convoyed to the port of Berdyansk.
On April 6, a court in Kherson, Ukraine, ruled to arrest the captain until May 31. However, he was not released on bail though the payment had been made.
Simultaneously, the Primorsky District Court of Mariupol in Ukraine imposed administrative fines on all crewmembers to the tune of $1,200. The ship’s owner earlier told TASS that the crew was allowed to leave the vessel, but they will have to stay in Mariupol at least until April 10 to testify in the criminal case against the captain.
Attempts by the crew to leave Ukraine during the weekend, first via Kharkov, then through a checkpoint directly to Crimea failed.
However, the Russian Embassy vowed that an early return of the crew to Russia is high on the agenda.