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Kiev deliberately fuels tensions over arrested Russian fishing vessel — Crimean official

"In fact, this comes in continuation of their piracy-like actions against Russian citizens, who are being forced into becoming nationals of Ukraine," Crimea's deputy premier said

YALTA, April 20. /TASS/. The authorities of Ukraine deliberately fuel tensions over the arrest of a Russian fishing vessel last month, Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Georgy Muradov said on Friday.

"In response to blatant violations of the international law, we will do our best to protect our sailors and press for their soonest return," Muradov, who is also the republic’s envoy to the Russian president, said during the International Economic Forum in Crimea’s Yalta.

"Ukrainian nationalist-minded authorities have committed another tough provocation. In fact, this comes in continuation of their piracy-like actions against Russian citizens, who are being forced into becoming nationals of Ukraine. Those actions do not correspond to any norm of the international law," the Crimean official continued.

Muradov said that although no charges have so far been laid against the sailors, they are still not allowed to return home.

"This provocation will be ended anyway. Ukraine is seeking a conflict, which, in my opinion, is definitely being fuelled deliberately, because Ukraine remains an instrument at the hands of those seeking to aggravate the international situation," he added.


Nord ship’s detention

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 fishing vessel’s captain was 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 envisages an imprisonment for a term of up to five years and also the confiscation of the ship.

On April 6, a court in Kherson, Ukraine, ruled to arrest the captain until May 31.

He was released on April 10 but was ordered to appear before the Ukrainian Security Service Department for investigative measures. Later, the captain was slapped with a new charge of illegal fishing. The Ukrainian authorities chose a measure of restraint for him in the form of a personal obligation. He must appear before the court and investigative bodies at their first demand. However, he is barred from visiting Crimea.

Simultaneously, the Primorsky District Court of Mariupol in Ukraine imposed administrative fines on all members of the crew for the total sum of about $1,200. They were allowed to leave the vessel. Later on, the Ukrainian border guards did not let the crew members accompanied by diplomatic workers to leave the country citing the lack of necessary documents as a pretext.

According to the Ukrainian Border Guard Service, residents of Crimea, which was incorporated into Russia after the 2014 referendum, must present Ukrainian rather than Russian passports.