SIMFEROPOL, February 11. /TASS/. The captain of Russia’s Nord fishing vessel arrested in Ukraine, Vladimir Gorbenko, did right when he left Ukraine as he could not have had a fair trial there, Crimean Human Rights Ombudsperson Lyudmila Lubina told TASS on Monday.
According to earlier reports, the vessel’s captain Vladimir Gorbenko returned to Crimea from Ukraine.
"He did the right thing. As far as I know, they were reluctant to let him leave the country with his Russian passport. There were travel restrictions so how could he leave? Was he expected to hope for a fair trial? Justice is long gone in Ukraine," Lubina said.
Meanwhile, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Gorbenko’s return, only saying that "the result speaks for itself."
"I will not comment on that. The main thing is that he is now back home in Crimea. This is what is important, while we will learn details in the future, or maybe we won’t. However, the result speaks for itself," Peskov said.
When asked how Moscow would react if Ukraine requested Gorbenko’s extradition, the Kremlin spokesman said that "such things are done through diplomatic channels so this is a question for the Foreign Ministry."
Nord vessel issue
In March 2018, 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 charged under the Ukrainian Criminal Code’s article on "violating the entry and exit rules to Ukraine’s occupied territory" and illegal fishing. On April 10, the Kherson City Court released Gorbenko on bail, while other Russian sailors were fined.
Two of the crew members managed to leave Ukraine but the other seven were prevented from leaving the country with Russian passports as Kiev considers Crimean residents to be Ukrainian citizens. However, on October 30, Kiev handed the sailors over to Russia in exchange for seven Ukrainian crew members from the YaMK-0041 and YaOD-2105 ships, detained for illegal fishing off Crimea’s coast.