Moscow will ignore court order to return Crimean lighthouses to Ukraine

18:28, 02 November 2006
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Russian Ambassador to Ukraine argues

Moscow will ignore a Ukrainian court order to return Crimean lighthouses used by the Russian naval fleet to Ukraine, Russia`s ambassador said Thursday, according to AP.

      A court in Ukraine`s Black Sea port of Sevastopol ruled in September that 22 lighthouses and other navigational devices held by the Russian Black Sea fleet must be returned to the control of Ukraine`s Transport Ministry. The ruling cannot be appealed. Ukraine`s Foreign Ministry followed it up with an official note to Russia demanding their return.

      Asked if Russia would comply, Russian Ambassador Viktor Chernomyrdin said no. "There are international rules, there is an agreement ratified by both of our parliaments," he said in remarks shown on Ukraine`s TV5.

      Russia has argued that the court`s decision violated a 1997 agreement that divided the Soviet Union`s Black Sea fleet between Russia and Ukraine. Under that agreement, the Russian navy was allowed to remain in Sevastopol until 2017, paying an annual rent of $93 million. Ukraine insists the lighthouses - scattered along the coast of the Crimean peninsula - were not part of the deal.

      The presence of the Russian troops on Ukrainian territory has sparked anger among Ukrainian nationalists, and given rise to a number of disputes between Ukraine and Russia. Earlier this year, Russia accused Ukraine of trying to seize the lighthouses.

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