The Russian authorities may bring new charges against 24 Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia's FSB in the Black Sea on November 25. "All 24 sailors were charged with the same: violation of Part 3 of Article 322 of the Criminal Code of Russia (Illegal crossing the state border of Russia). The highest punishment under this article is six years in prison. But as is seen from experience in other cases and in relation to other political prisoners, I do not rule out that the Russian authorities may try to bring more charges by adding new articles," Russian lawyer of the Ukrainian sailors Nikolay Polozov said in an interview to Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty's Ukrainian service. According to him, it will depend on the "political situation and the political will of the Kremlin." "Of course, such a danger exists," the lawyer added.
The Russian authorities have not yet commented on this statement of Polozov.
UNIAN reported earlier, 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.