No internal probe into departure of Russian ship’s captain, says Ukrainian border service

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KIEV, February 12. /TASS/. The Ukrainian Border Service has no plans to conduct an internal probe concerning the departure of Vladimir Gorbenko, the captain of Russia’s Nord fishing vessel arrested in Ukraine, who recently left the country for Crimea, Border Service Spokesman Oleg Slobodyan told the UNN news agency.

“We have no reason to conduct an internal probe. If evidence emerged of rules violations, then not only an internal probe will be carried out but a criminal investigation will also be opened,” he said. At the same time, Slobodyan emphasized that “the Border Service is working to figure out how Gorbenko managed to leave for Crimea.”

According to earlier reports, the ship’s captain, who was under investigation in Ukraine, has returned to Crimea. A week ago, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry issued a nationwide alert for Gorbenko who had broken contact with his Ukrainian lawyers on January 26.

Nord vessel issue

In March 2018, Ukraine’s State Border Service detained a fishing vessel flying the Russian flag in the Sea of Azov, whose crew includes ten Russian nationals. The vessel’s captain was charged under the Ukrainian Criminal Code’s article on “violating the entry and exit rules to Ukraine’s occupied territory” and illegal fishing. On April 10, the Kherson City Court released Gorbenko on bail, while other Russian sailors were fined.

Two of the crew members managed to leave Ukraine but the other seven were prevented from leaving the country with Russian passports as Kiev considers Crimean residents to be Ukrainian citizens. However, on October 30, Kiev handed the sailors over to Russia in exchange for seven Ukrainian crew members from the YaMK-0041 and YaOD-2105 ships, detained for illegal fishing off Crimea’s coast.

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