Second rank Captain Denys Hrytsenko, one of the Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia off the coast of Crimea, said that he and his fellow prisoners of war Mykhailo Vlasyuk, Andriy Drach and Vyacheslav Zynchenko were taken to the Serbsky Center in Moscow to undergo psychiatric examinations.
Hrytsenko’s account reaches us through his Russian attorney, Nikolai Polozov.
“During the examination, Denys Hrytsenko responded to the experts’ questions in accordance with Article 17 of the Third Geneva Convention, which regulates the rules of behavior for a prisoner of war during interrogation. He refused to answer questions on factual circumstances,” Polozov wrote on Facebook, noting that the examination took place on 1 April, with no attorneys present.
Hrytsenko and his attorney were shown two documents ordering the examination of the combat units of the captured Ukrainian boats “Nikopol” and “Berdyansk”.
During the investigative activity, a petition was made to include the report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, according to which all 24 detained Ukrainians have prisoner of war status, and thus are protected by the Third Geneva Convention.
“While we were familiarizing ourselves with the orders, I was able to have a little chat with Denys. He was in a good mood, and is feeling cheerful. He received all his care packages in full. Literally yesterday they were given the letters (for January),” Polozov added.
On 25 November last year, Russia attacked and captured the Ukrainian military boats Berdyansk and Nikopol and the tugboat Yany Kapu in neutral waters. All 24 Ukrainians on board were accused of violating the Russian state border, arrested, and transferred from Kerch to Moscow. Ukraine considered this an act of military aggression, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recognized the captured sailors as prisoners of war.
US President Donald Trump canceled his planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin because of the Kerch Strait incident. US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker similarly called off his scheduled negotiation session with Russian Presidential Aide Vladislav Surkov.
Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, said in December that Ukraine had invited its international partners to take part in a passage of naval ships from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait. The Russian media warned that this could “aggravate the situation”.