Captain of ship captured by Russia tells investigators he is a prisoner of war

Bohdan Nebylytsya, captain of the Ukrainian armored boat the Nikopol, which was captured several weeks ago near the Kerch Strait, told Russia’s FSB that he considers himself a prisoner of war, reported attorney Mykola Polozov.

“As with the other sailors, Nebylytsya was investigated, we have been informed of several orders to set up expert assessments. They have also interrogated him. During the interrogation, he said that he is a prisoner of war,” Polozov noted.

“Emil Kurbedinov, the defense team attorney of the detained Ukrainian sailors visited Bohdan Nebylytsya, commander of the armored artillery boat the Nikopol. According to the attorney, Nebylytsya is doing well. He looks cheerful, and smiles. However, during his stay in the Lefortovo pretrial detention center, he has been transferred to different rooms on four occasions. Now he is with a person named Muhamed. Relations are normal, but they don’t interact much,” Polozov added.

Nebylytsya was the ninth of the captured Ukrainian sailors to declare himself a prisoner of war and refuse to admit any guilt.

Bohdan Nebylytsya was one of the cadets at the Nakhimov Naval Academy in Sevastopol who refused to swear allegiance to Russia, and instead sung the Ukrainian national anthem while Russian troops were lowering the Ukrainian flag and raising their own flag. Nebylytsya and the other cadets finished their studies at the Odessa National Maritime Academy. In 2016, he received his diploma and was appointed commander of the Nikopol.

The other illegally detained sailors who have declared themselves prisoners of war include: Denis Hrytsenko, commander of all three ships, Oleh Melnychuk, commander of the tug boat Yany Kapu, Vasyl Soroka, an officer of the Security Service of Ukraine, and Roman Mokryak, the commander of the Berdyansk.

As reported previously, Russia’s FSB has charged the 24 Ukrainian sailors with “an illegal crossing of the border committed by a group of persons with a previous collusion, or an organized group, or with the use of force or the threat of its use” (§3 art. 322 of Russia’s Criminal Code).

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.

  Russia, Ukraine, Crimea, Azov Sea, Moscow, Kerch Strait