The Deputy Minister of Justice and Commissioner for European Court of Human Rights Affairs, Ivan Lishchyna stated that Ukraine asked the European Court of Human Rights to recognize Russia’s violation of the rights of the 24 Ukrainian sailors held captive in Russia.
“The Government of Ukraine has fulfilled the court’s instructions and filed a full-fledged application for case №55855/18 on January 7th, 2019. The government demands that the court recognize the violation by the Russian Federation of the rights of 24 Ukrainian sailors, during the unlawful attack on Ukrainian ships. This includes wounding and capturing the sailors in the Kerch Strait on November 25th, 2018, their illegal confinement in a Russian penitentiary, and prosecuting this criminally,” he wrote on Facebook.
Ukraine believes that the Russian side has violated articles 2, 3, 5, 6, and 38 of the Convention for the Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
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.