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Russian ship crew detained by Ukraine after insisting they are Russians, not Ukrainians

"They claimed that our vessel is Ukrainian and that we are Ukrainians," a crew member, who is a resident of Crimea, said

SIMFEROPOL, April 21. /TASS/. Ukrainian border guards arrested a Russian fishing vessel after its crew insisted they were nationals of Russia, not Ukraine, crew member Dmitry Tarazanov, who managed to return home, has told reporters.

"They [Ukrainian border guards] asked whether we considered ourselves to be citizens of Ukraine or Russia. Our answer was: 'Russia, of course.' This is what I told the Ukrainian court - we are citizens of Russia, I confirm this once again. This is what the entire crew had said as well. In fact, this is what irritated the Ukrainian side," he said.

According to Tarazanov, Ukrainian border guards insisted that Russian sailors presented their Ukrainian documents.

"They claimed that our vessel is Ukrainian and that we are Ukrainians. They asked us to show our Ukrainian passports. I have no idea of where this passport is. We are Russian people. We are Russians," the sailor said.

Another crew member, Irina Oborina, confirmed that "Ukrainian border guards demanded all the time that our relatives in Crimea send our Ukrainian documents here by post."


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."

He was released on bail and told to appear before the court and investigative bodies at their first demand.

Simultaneously, another Ukrainian court imposed administrative fines on all members of the crew for the total sum of about $1,200. Later on, the Ukrainian border guards did not let the crew members accompanied by diplomatic workers to leave the country using Russian passports, because Ukraine considers Crimean residents to be citizens of Ukraine.

On Thursday, two sailors - Dmitry Tarazanov and Irina Oborina managed to get to Simferopol, Crima, via Minsk (Belarus) and Moscow.

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.