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Russian yacht detained by North Korea arrives in Far Eastern city

May 17, 2016, 9:31 UTC+3

Russia’s Elfin yacht earlier detained by a North Korean coast guard vessel arrived in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, the Sem Futov yacht club’s spokeswoman says

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VLADIVOSTOK, May 17. /TASS/. Russia’s Elfin yacht earlier detained by a North Korean coast guard vessel arrived in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok on Tuesday, the Sem Futov yacht club’s spokeswoman told TASS.

"The yacht is already in our waters, it has arrived in Vladivostok," Yana Konoplitskaya said.

The Elfin yacht with five crew members onboard was detained in the Sea of Japan some 80 miles off North Korea’s coast on May 14 and towed off to the port city of Kimchaek. The vessel, belonging to the Primorye Sailing Association, was on the way from the South Korean port of Busan to Vladivostok after an international regatta.

Russia’s Consul General in Chongjin Yury Bochkarev earlier met with representatives of the local border guard service in Kimchaek. They said the yacht was detained by a North Korean fishing boat.

The North Korean fishermen saw a South Korean logotype on the vessel and decided to tow it off to Kimchaek "just in case" taking into consideration tense relations between North Korea and South Korea. They later told the consul general that "the detention occurred by mistake."

The crew members of the yacht told a press conference in Vladivostok on Tuesday that the North Korean coast guards detained them after having mistaken them for South Korean spies.

"We were coming back from the Busan Super Cup race. They (North Koreans) said they were confused by Korean hieroglyphs. We did not violate anything. At first no one said anything, and later they said about a mistake and that they took us for Korean spies," senior aide to captain Sergey Domovidov said.

"This was a real attack. We were shocked," he said. "When we were already pressed and they demanded to hand over the captain, we understood that the situation was already threatening."

The coast guards in Kimchaek solved the situation and later allowed the yacht to leave the port and North Korea’s territorial waters.

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