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Crimean official comments on Ukraine’s lawsuit over Kerch Strait navigation restrictions

August 02, 16:55 UTC+3 SIMFEROPOL

Moscow launched the project to build a bridge connecting Crimea with mainland Russia in February 2016

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SIMFEROPOL, August 2. /TASS/. Ukraine’s plans to sue Russia over the Kerch Strait navigation restrictions are politically motivated and have no legal grounds, Chairman of the Crimean Civic Chamber Grigory Ioffe told TASS on Wednesday.

"What claims can Ukraine bring concerning navigation, the bridge construction and so on? They just don’t understand the current situation," he said. "This is pure politics, there are no legal arguments. Let them figure out how the legal system in Ukraine operates," Ioffe added.

Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) member Andrei Kozenko, who represents Crimea, in turn, said it was not the first time that Ukraine complained about Russia’s actions, particularly those related to navigation and port operations. "Ukraine’s new initiative is just another attempt at shifting the responsibility for their own economic failures to their neighbors," he told TASS.

According to the lawmaker, the Kiev authorities should focus on the actual problems that the country has been facing, including the level of wages, staff developments and corruption in ports. "Temporary restrictions that Russia is going to impose only concern vessels sizes," Kozenko explained. "It means that the biggest risk for Ukraine is that it will have to pay attention to the sizes of barges carrying watermelons from the Kherson region," he noted.

Chairman of the Crimean parliamentary Committee for State Building and Local Government Yefim Fiks said that the Ukrainian authorities should read classic Russian literature more.

"There is a fable by Ivan Krylov about an elephant and a pug-dog. Let them read it and draw some conclusions, before they file any lawsuits. The fable clearly says that the dog feels happy by barking at the elephant. But it is not the right thing to do," he said.

Ukraine’s intentions

According to Ukraine’s Deputy Infrastructure Minister Yuri Lavrenyuk, Kiev has been preparing a lawsuit concerning the navigation restrictions imposed by Russia in the Kerch Strait because of the Crimea Bridge construction.

In particular, Ukraine’s Justice Ministry points to the blocking of the Kerch Strait. Kiev says that the restrictions will affect the Mariupol and Berdyansk commercial ports that will receive less profit.

Moscow launched the project to build a bridge connecting Crimea with mainland Russia in February 2016. Temporary restrictions will be imposed on the navigation via the Kerch Strait in the second half of August in light of the construction work. Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov pointed out that the restrictions would be minimal.

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