13 Mar 2019 18:22

Ukrainian ombudsman does not believe Russian human rights council's info on injured sailors' health condition, awaiting medical conclusion

KYIV. March 13 (Interfax) - The chairman of the Russian Presidential Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov has written to Ukrainian ombudsman Liudmyla Denisova to reassure her that the three injured Ukrainian sailors held at Moscow's Lefortovo jail were receiving proper medical treatment and did not need to be hospitalized.

"I have received a reply to my two messages... the letter says that the three injured sailors are receiving qualified medical aid within the Lefortovo walls. But there are no conditions for treatment. Also, they are trying to reassure me that the sailors do not require urgent hospitalization as was repeatedly requested... I am concerned by the health condition of the injured captured navy sailors. A response to my queries did arrived but there are now even more questions," Denisova wrote on her Facebook page on Wednesday.

As for one injured sailor, Vasyl Soroka, she said: "Why the surgery is being delayed is unclear. Meanwhile, Vasyl is in critical condition, his improvement is impossible without the provision of medical aid."

"The guys were said to be supposedly in satisfactory conditions. Yet again, no officially-confirmed medical conclusion has been provided," Denisova said.

On November 25, 2018, Russian border guards used weapons to stop three Ukrainian naval vessels, the Yany Kapu tug and the Berdyansk and the Nikopol armored gunboats, which were traveling from Odesa to Mariupol in the Kerch Strait. The vessels were escorted to Kerch.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) said the ships entered Russia's territorial waters on orders from Kyiv and described the incident as an act of provocation coordinated by two Ukrainian Security Service officers. Russia also said that Kyiv did not duly notify it that naval vessels were planning to pass through the Kerch Strait.

Kyiv called the border guards' actions unlawful and accused Moscow of violating the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and a treaty between Ukraine and Russia on cooperation in using the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

Courts in Simferopol and Kerch remanded the 22 sailors and two Ukrainian Security Service officials in custody. In late November they were transferred to Moscow.

The Ukrainians are charged with "conspiracy by a group of persons or an organized group to illegally cross the border using violence or the threat to use violence." If found guilty, they could face up to six years in prison.

Kyiv calls the detained sailors prisoners of war. The Russian authorities say they cannot be regarded as POWs, as they are charged with a crime and Russia and Ukraine are not in a state of war or military conflict.