Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The violent seizure of power, an anti-constitutional armed coup, genocide of civilians, murder, the illegal seizure of property. For a full criminal “bouquet” the Kiev regime was only lacking piracy. And here this annoying gap, at last, was finally eliminated.
The other day it became known about the confiscation in Odessa of the Tanzanian ship Sky Moon, the crew of which worked on trade routes in the Black Sea, entering, including, Crimean ports. It appeared to be enough for filibusters: the fact is that Kiev demands coordination with it of any visit to this Russian region, and non-compliance with this condition is punishable by the article of the criminal legislation that is specially invented for such a case. And it is like that a ship, which was engaged in quite peaceful transportations on the Black Sea routes, was firstly was caught by “independent” Ukraine’s pirates, and then became their fully-fledged trophy.
Sea of contention
The decision on the confiscation of the ship was made by one of the district courts of Odessa, thus the State enriched itself due to the seizure of not only the ship, but also the freight transported by it – about 3,000 tons of caustic soda. It seems that in the present economic conditions the country is not well-off, if they are satisfied with such “catches”. However the decision on the confiscation of goods (read – legislatively justified robbery) was furnished with all formalities: with a verdict, a criminal article, and public censure in the media…
It is interesting that the whole international crew came under the hit of the Ukrainian Themis. The shipowners of Sky Moon were citizens of Moldova and Romania, and the crew were employed in Syria. All three countries are not from the category of extremely rich. For Syrians the opportunity to earn additional money as crew is really one of the few ways to support their families in conditions of ruin in their country. However for Kiev these delicate details, seemingly, didn’t bother them. The verdict about the seizure of the ship and its freight was uncompromising, and a pretext – “violation of an order of entrance into temporarily occupied territory and departure from it” – wasn’t subject to discussion.
So far the reaction of the shipowners, as well as the owners and customers of the transported freight in this story. Also nothing was heard about the further destiny of the crew affected by the actions of the Black Sea pirates. According to some information, each of them were fined 1,700 hryvnias (slightly more than 3,500 rubles). At the same time, the Ukrainian authorities declared their determination to find and bring the owner of the freight to liability, and also to strictly specify to the authorities of the Czech Republic, in the territory of which, as it became clear, the firm owning this ship was registered.
“Maidan” crept up unnoticed
Maritime ultimatums connected with Crimea can be added to the same phantom pains – attempts of a disabled person to scratch their finger on the amputated foot. It is impossible to count the warnings and notes that the Ukrainian authorities put forward for flights over the Crimean sky uncoordinated with them, and passes of ships, conducting economic activity in territorial waters near the Crimean coast.
On the one hand, all this pushing around can be considered as an imitation of the intense activity of heads of desks from a group of the creators of the “revolution of dignity”, and on the other hand – attempts of putting pressure on seamen are quite real. In particular, as of today it is known about at least 38 “blows” of the authorities of Ukraine on crews of foreign ships visiting the ports of Crimea – Kerch, Feodosiya, Sevastopol. In particular, crews of the Turkish Canton bulk carrier, the Singapore Knebworth gas tanker, and the fishing trawler “Cheremosh” attributed to Sevastopol were exposed to similar “obstruction”. Seamen received the standard charge of being in violation of the order of rules concerning entrance and departure of the ports of Crimea on the “territory that is temporarily occupied”, and they were penalised.
Fortunately, any serious actions in relation to ships and their crews weren’t undertaken, except the same fine of 1700 hryvnias (which, by the way, nobody is in a hurry to pay). In Ukraine today in general the enforcement of laws, to put it mildly, limps. What is there to say when even the same Knebworth gas tanker entered the ports on the Odessa coast no less than ten times and never during its visit caused even the slightest pretension from customs officers and border guards, despite the fact that the captain didn’t hide the facts of entrance in the ports of Crimea.
The situation changed after the fact that this “betrayal” was noticed by a certain volunteer movement “Maidan of Foreign Affairs”. This group of “patriots” scrupulously calculated a full list of ships entering Crimean ports, then initiated the bringing of criminal cases against their crews. At the same time a massive information campaign in the media was launched, which was accompanied by accusations against the corrupted Ukrainian port chiefs. It is interesting that the boiling point of the activity of the aforementioned “Maidan” came with the arrival to the leadership of the Odessa Regional Administration of Mikheil Saakashvili. Now, after he retired from this post, the revelations of “Maidanists” abated a little.
Nevertheless, for the current moment, the proceedings on the facts of the entrance into the seaports of Crimea is conducted by Ukraine in relation to 117 foreign ships. Sky Moon became a victim precisely of this “investigation”. “Patriots” demand exemplar victims, declaring the need for drastic measures, including the detention of ships that must become “a clear signal for violators who will be obliged to weigh more carefully the possible negative consequences of work with the occupied territory”.
Moreover, the aforementioned “Maidan of foreign affairs” urges the authorities to submit claims to the International Courts of Justice, where no less than the arrest of ship-violators not only in Ukraine, but also in all ports of the world is demanded.
Monetization of patriotism
To speak with madmen with a quiet, judicious tone, to adduce them some evidence and arguments – it is in advance senseless. But it is still worth trying at least. The advising lawyer Olga Frolova reminds that now there are a number of the documents that regulate the procedure of arrest of maritime ships. This is both the International convention, and the code of maritime navigation, and the legislations of the States conducting maritime activity.
“The basis for arrest can become demands that arose in one or several circumstances,” notes the expert. “Among them there is a drawing of losses as a result of collision of one ship with another ship or other obstacle, harming health, an accident, and loss or partial damage of freight. But anyway in the beginning it is necessary to find out whether the arrest is competent or not, because it affects property rights”.
The international convention that the lawyer mentions, or the Convention on the Law of the Sea, was adopted by the UN in 1982. It unites the principles and precepts of law establishing the regime of maritime spaces and regulating relations between States concerning the use of sea space. The convention is signed by 167 States, and ratified by 147, which includes also Ukraine. Article 92 of the Convention says that “the trade ship in the high sea submits to the exclusive jurisdiction of the State of their flag, and nobody has no right to interfere with its lawful activity, except cases when the ship is engaged in piracy or slave trade or conducts an unauthorized broadcast on the territory of foreign states”. These circumstances, according to the Convention, can serve as the basis for arrest.
By the way, the questions concerning this process are recorded also in the Ukrainian national maritime law, in particular, in the code of trade navigation of Ukraine adopted in 1995. According to this document, the statement of any person making a demand on property rights and other property rights of the ship, its operation or commercial use can be the basis for making decision on arrest. However, nothing from the aforementioned applies to the boats arrested in Ukrainian ports. Repressive measures here were taken on invented pretexts, under hastily invented articles of criminal legislation.
It is also worth adding that in 1999, in Geneva, the international convention on the detention of ships – a concise and absolutely concrete set of rules, stipulating these questions – was adopted. But even in it there is no basis to which it is possible to refer, commenting on current actions of the Ukrainian authorities. Olga Frolova notices that often arrest is used for obtaining benefit: for example, to remove a competitor from the market or for premeditated bankruptcy of the company…
“We have a case of barefaced ‘monetization’ of patriotism,” the expert states.
Against the background of State piracy, the “pirate public activists” also try to declare themselves in Ukraine. Thus, the leader of nationalists Lenur Islyamov on the air of ATR TV stated his readiness to form groups of boats that will control maritime routes going to Crimea. Including the “inspection” of passing ships.
“We took this under control, and we will block ports. We have such opportunities, we have a battalion that has boats. We have technical capabilities, and we prepare for it,” declared Islyamov.
It is natural that such a broad, frankly criminal statement – the de-facto admission of criminal activity of an international scale – didn’t receive censure by anyone from the authorities.
“It is actually possible to untwist the whole carousel of detentions of the ships,” supposes the well-known expert in the field of a marine law, the editor of “Maritime bulletin” Mikhail Voitenko. “The case can reach confiscation of the ship and the jailing of all the crew”.
It is interesting that the Russian authorities didn’t put any obstacles in front of the Ukrainian seamen wishing to visit Russian ports. According to available information, just in 2015 ships under a yellow-blue flag made over 1000 entrances to the ports of our country.
The vice-chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on international affairs Leonid Kalashnikov believes that Ukraine will now consistently try to arrange similar provocations in the Black Sea.
“However we, Russia, have the means to oppose it,” notes the deputy.
An example of this can also be the actions of Russian border guards who more than once made it known to the potential pirates of Ukraine about the hopelessness of their sorties concerning maritime objects of our country. It is enough to remember the story of attempts of the Ukrainian Naval Forces to influence the activity of the sea drilling platform “Taurida”. In March of last year the frigate “Hetman Sahaidachny” and the diving ship “Pochaev” decided to flex its muscles in front of Russian oil industry workers. According to some information, onboard the latter, even automatic guns were heard from the platform. However, afterwards, once in the place of the conflict a patrol ship of the border service of the Russian FSB appeared, the ships with unfortunate filibusters onboard hurried to retire urgently.
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