Russian security officials have not brought any charges against sailors from the Ukrainian vessel YMK-0041, which was detained near the annexed Crimea. The Ukrainians are thus being held illegally, stated the lawyer Edem Semedlyaev, Radio Liberty reports.
"Four sailors, with the exception of the captain, are at the border agency in the city of Balaklava. They have not been charged with anything; their status as of today is unknown. They are not permitted to see lawyers. They are being held there just like hostages. With what goal is unclear; possibly for an exchange," Semedlyaev noted.
He said that along with another lawyer, Emil Kurbedinov, he has filed a number of complaints regarding the actions of Russian law enforcement, particularly regarding the illegal detention of the seamen.
A criminal case for poaching has been initiated against the Captain of Ukrainian fishing vessel YMK-0041 (port of registration - Ochakov), which was detained on May 4 by Russian border guards in the Black Sea west of Cape Tarkhankut.
Nets and fish were seized from the fishermen. The vessel and the crew, consisting of five Ukrainian citizens, were taken to the annexed territory of the Crimea.
The State Border Service of Ukraine (SBSU) noted that the vessel had permits for fishing within a 12-mile sea zone and suggested that the captain of the vessel may have violated the border and gone to where he thought there would be a better catch.
The SBSU added that they are studying all the circumstances surrounding the incident.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a letter to Russia in connection with the detention of the Ukrainian fishing vessel off the coast of the Crimea demanding the immediate release of the vessel and crew.
In an opinion piece on Ukrayinska Pravda, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mariana Betsa stressed that Ukraine regards the detention of the ship as usurpation.
The detained captain may face up to 5 years of imprisonment in the occupied Crimea.