U.S. diplomats urge Russia to immediately release Ukrainian sailors rather than conduct psychiatric exams

20:15, 12 March 2019
Politics
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Man holding a poster saying "Free Ukrainian sailors from Russian prisons" / prm.ua

"We are deeply concerned by Russia’s treatment of the Ukrainians it has unjustly detained," the diplomats wrote.

As UNIAN reported earlier citing a lawyer, Nikolay Polozov, Russian investigators ordered that a psychiatric examination be conducted of 11 POW sailors.

On March 4, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova said Ukrainian sailors had been in Russian captivity for 100 days already.

Read alsoHealth condition of captured Ukrainian POW sailors deteriorating – Ukrainian ombudsperson

"Today is 100 days since the Ukrainian sailors are in Russian captivity. Ukraine, along with all civilized countries, is calling on the Russian Federation to comply with the norms of international humanitarian law, in particular the norms of the 1949 Geneva Convention. Our guys are prisoners of war, and the Russian Federation must free them!" she wrote on Facebook.

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.

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