Ukraine Demands Release of Fishermen Detained by Russia

Ukraine on Tuesday said Russia should immediately release four nationals detained last week for allegedly fishing illegally in the Sea of Azov, TASS reported.

Ukraine “continues to insist” that these are all “illegal actions of the Russian Federation,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Kateryna Zelenko told AFP.

The fishermen and their boat were detained on Saturday and taken to Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.

A Moscow-controlled court in Crimea ruled on Sunday that they must serve 10 days in prison for an administrative offence.

“We do not recognise any decisions by the Russian occupier’s courts and demand the immediate release of our citizens,” Zelenko said.

The Ukrainian foreign ministry summoned the Russian charge d’affaires Alexander Lukashik on Monday over the detention.

On November 25, 2018, Russian border guards attacked, intercepted, and seized three Ukrainian Navy boats off Crimea, taking 24 crew members prisoner.

The following November, Russia returned the severely damaged Ukrainian vessels and a UN tribunal had ordered Russia to immediately release the crew members and ships in May.

The sailors were freed after 10 months in a landmark prisoner exchange in September.

Russia invaded Crimea in early 2014 and has controlled the peninsula ever since, triggering Western sanctions that are still in place.

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