Ilya Novikov, the lawyer for the arrested Commander of the Ukrainian Navy boat Berdyansk, Roman Mokryak detained in the Moscow detention center, stated that his client does not intend to give any testimony in the court until his crew members are realeased.
“The Commander of the ship Berdyansk, Roman Mokryak, announced to the investigation today that he demands that he and his crew be treated as prisoners of war and that he will not give the Russian authorities any testimony until his subordinates are released,” wrote his lawyer.
Mokryak stressed that “he alone answers for what happens on the ship, his crew was acting on his orders, and cannot be held responsible.”
Earlier, Denis Hrytsenko, group commander of the Ukrainian ships, stated that he should be considered a prisoner of war and refused to give any evidence. His lawyer, Mykola Polozov stated that his client does not admit his guilt and does not consider himself a criminal.
On the morning of November 25, Ukraine informed the Russian port of its intention to transfer three ships through the Kerch Strait, as required by the Agreement on the joint use of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. However, at around 8:00 a.m., Russian ships carried out acts of provocation against the Ukrainian vessels, even ramming into the Yany Kapu tugboat.
Russia later accused the Ukrainian ships of illegally entering its territorial waters, claiming that they were “maneuvering dangerously” and “not complying with the legitimate demands of the Russian authorities”. Russia also physically blocked the Kerch Strait with a transport ship. The Ukrainian ships decided to return to Odessa, but they were chased and subsequently attacked by the Russian military. The Berdiansk and Nikopol boats were hit, and two crew members were wounded. All three of the ships were seized by Russia.
On November 28, the Kremlin-controlled court of Simferopol placed the Ukrainian sailors under 2 months of arrest – until January 25, 2019.