On May 25, “Remember the Sailors. Six Months in Captivity” national action took place in the Kharkiv downtown.
The event started near the Kharkiv National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater’s fountain. Action’s organizers and participants brought three handmade ships which symbolized three Ukrainian navy vessels captured by the Russian navy.
Young children who joined the event got models of the three boats marked with the names of the captured ships, which they placed in the water.
Anastasia Hayeva, the action’s co-organizer, said that similar activities were held in Zaporizhia, Kyiv, Dnipro and other Ukrainian cities. “The event is not about politics, it’s about people, about Ukraine, its sovereignty and independence and about the laws’ implementation. We consider that Ukrainian, international and maritime laws have been violated because the sailors were captured in international waters. We believe that it was an unlawful seizure. Not many people know about it and we should inform them,” the activist stated.
According to Anastasia, another of the event’s goals is to let the captured sailors know that they are being thought of and awaited home. To raise awareness, activists were holding portraits of all 24 sailors and a written biographical note for each of them.
Anyone could join the action. Right near the fountain, the participants made ships of blue and yellow paper and put them into the water. Activists also chanted: “Bring them to the home harbor!” and “They are not criminals; they are prisoners!”
Kharkiv resident Andrii Vnukov, an ex-servicemen, joined the action to support the sailors. He considers the captured sailors his sworn brothers.
Activists then proceeded to the Consulate General of the Russian Federation to hand symbolic ships to the representatives of the Russian side. After the action, portraits of the sailors were placed on the stands near the “All for the Victory” tent.
Reference: The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea delivered its ruling in Hamburg on May 25 on the case Ukraine brought against Russia. According to its decision, Russia must “immediately” release 24 Ukrainian sailors and three Ukrainian naval vessels captured by Russia in November 2018.
However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation claims that the Tribunal has no jurisdiction in the conflict that took place near the Kerch Strait.
Recall, on November 25, 2018, Russian coast guards prevented three Ukrainian navy vessels, Yana Kapu tugboat, Nikopol and Berdyansk boats, from passing beneath the Kerch Strait bridge by blocking the way with a cargo ship. Three Ukrainian vessels were routinely sailing through the strait in order to make their scheduled redeployment from Odesa on the Black Sea to the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov when they were subsequently fired on and seized by Russian military navy. As a result, 24 Ukrainian sailors and three navy vessels were captured by the Russian side. Three sailors were injured. The Russian-controlled court in Simferopol arrested them. Since then, they have been detained in the Russian pre-trial detention center. Ukrainian seamen are accused of illegally crossing the border.
Text: Natalia Ivanova