KERCH, May 16. /TASS/. The situation surrounding the crew members of Russia’s Nord fishing vessel, detained in Ukraine in March, has not changed significantly, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reports on Wednesday.
"There have been no significant changes in the situation surrounding Russian sailors from the Nord fishing vessel," she said. "On May 8, the Kherson Regional Court of Appeal rejected an appeal against captain Vladimir Gorbenko’s arrest, lodged by his lawyers," she added.
Zakharova noted that only two crew members managed to leave Ukraine on April 19. "The remaining seven sailors, whom Ukrainian board guards prevented from crossing the border under a false pretext, still remain in Ukraine," she said. "The Russian embassy in Kiev has been providing them with accommodation and food. Our consuls are in constant contact with them, lawyers continue their work," the Russian diplomat added.
"We will seek that our sailors come back as soon as possible," Zakharova stressed.
On March 25, Ukraine’s State Border Service detained a fishing vessel flying the Russian flag in the Sea of Azov, whose crew includes ten Russian nationals.
The vessel’s captain was first charged under the Ukrainian Criminal Code’s article on "violating the entry and exit rules to Ukraine’s occupied territory" and may face up to five years in prison if found guilty, while the ship may be confiscated. On April 6, the Kherson City Court arrested Gorbenko until May 31 but set a bail, which was immediately granted.
At the same time, the Primorsky District Court in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol considered administrative charges against the vessel’s crew members, sentencing them to fines totaling around $1,200. The crew members were prevented from leaving Ukraine with Russian passports as Kiev considers Crimean residents to be Ukrainian citizens.