The TASS news agency reported, citing Mykola Polozov, the lawyer for the commander of one of the Ukrainian ships detained in the Kerch Strait, Denys Hrytsenko, that his defendant refused to testify in the Russian court and does not admit guilt.
“There were investigations, my client refused to testify and did not admit guilt. Now the investigation in considering my request for permission for my client to see his relatives,” said the lawyer.
According to Interfax news agency, Hrytsenko wrote that he considers himself a prisoner of war.
Earlier, the head of the investigative department of the FSB of Russia, Mikhail Shishov, said that the detained Ukrainian sailors could not be considered prisoners of war.
According to him, in accordance with the convention on the treatment of prisoners of war, signed in Geneva on August 12, 1949, Ukrainian border trespassers cannot be considered prisoners of war, since the Russian Federation and Ukraine are not in a state of military conflict or war.
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.