Photo by Roman Tsymbaliuk, UNIAN

The Moscow City Court has upheld a ruling on the extension of arrest for another four Ukrainian sailors, namely Yevhen Semydotsky, Andriy Oprysko, Roman Mokriak, and Serhiy Tsybizov.

"To reject an appeal. Not to reverse the decision by [Moscow's] Lefortovo district court," a judge of the Moscow City Court said, according to an UNIAN correspondent in Russia.

Thus, the Ukrainian prisoners of war will remain in custody in the Lefortovo detention center until the end of April.

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The Ukrainian military refused to testify before the court, referring to Article 17 of the Geneva Convention.

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The court met behind closed doors at the request of the FSB investigator and the prosecutor, although the lawyers and the captive sailors insisted on an open court hearing. Journalists, Ukrainian consuls, EU diplomats were invited only for the announcement of the ruling.

Ilya Novikov, Mokriak's lawyer, said there were no secret materials at the court hearing and the investigators' request violates the principle of publicity of the proceedings.

UNIAN memo. On the morning of November 25, Russia blocked the passage to the Kerch Strait for the Ukrainian tugboat "Yany Kapu" and two armored naval boats "Berdyansk" and "Nikopol," which were on a scheduled re-deployment from the Black Sea port of Odesa to the Azov Sea port of Mariupol.

The Ukraine Navy Command noted that the Russian side had been informed of the plans to re-deploy the vessels in advance in accordance with international standards to ensure the safety of navigation. The Russian coast guard ship "Don" rammed the Ukrainian tugboat, damaging the Ukrainian vessel. As the Ukrainian boats were heading back in the Odesa direction after being rejected passage via the Kerch Strait, Russian coast guards opened aimed fire on them. All 24 crew members on board were captured and later remanded in custody for two months, being charged with "illegal border crossing" (the sailors are facing up to six years in prison). Three crewmen were wounded in the attack. Russian-controlled "courts" in occupied Crimea ruled that all 24 detainees should be remanded in custody, after which they were transferred to the Moscow-based Lefortovo and Matrosskaya Tishina detention centers. Moscow's Lefortovo district court in the middle of January 2019, ruled to keep the Ukrainian sailors in remand until the end of April 2019.