The Lefortovsky District Court of Moscow has held the closed-door hearing on extension of the arrest of Ukrainian sailors who were captured in the Kerch Strait.
The court extended the arrest of eight of 24 Ukrainian sailors until April 24, news agency TASS reports. They are charged with illegal crossing the Russian border.
These eight Ukrainian sailors are Roman Mokryak, Andriy Oprysko, Evgen Semydotski, Serhiy Tsybyzov, Volodymyr Tereshchenko, Bogdan Holovash, Serhiy Popov and Andriy Shevchenko.
On November 25, three Ukrainian ships were captured by the Russian special forces when going from Odessa to Mariupol. The Russian side accused them of violating the state border and ‘dangerous maneuvering’ and sent military reinforcements to the scene of the incident, including combat helicopters.
Since the Ukrainian ships were not allowed into the Sea of Azov, they finally turned back to Odessa. But the Russians pursued the Ukrainians in neutral waters, demanded a halt, and eventually used lethal force. “Nikopol”, “Berdyansk” and “Yany Kapu” gunboats were captured and sent to Kerch. Russia took prisoner 24 people, 6 sailors were injured.
In response, 30-day martial law was introduced in 10 regions of Ukraine — those bordering Russia, Transnistria and the Black Sea coast, as well as in Chernihiv region bordering Belarus. In turn, Vladimir Putin called the incident ‘provocation staged by Petro Poroshenko ahead of the presidential election in Ukraine’.
On January 7, Ukraine filed a lawsuit against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights for the detention of sailors in the Black Sea.