"The agreement on the return of sailors has been reached already. There is the order of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Now the last documents are being drawn up. I think that soon we will welcome sailors in the homeland," Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova told Hromadske media outlet in the town of Shchastia during the transfer of Ukrainian prisoners from the occupied Luhansk region.
Denisova specified that the negotiations on the release of Ukrainian sailors are being conducted within the framework of the enforcement of the order delivered by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
At the same time, lawyer of sailors Nikolay Polozov told Hromadske that he was not aware of such agreements.
"I can say that negotiations are ongoing. However, I cannot say on what stage they are and when they will be implemented as I do not take part in them. If any procedural steps are taken, as for drawing up of documents, we will know about this, because they will not be signed in the absence of the sailors’ defenders. So far, nobody has informed anything like this. Yesterday, a news stage began in the case - familiarization with the files of the criminal case," the lawyer said.
In recent days, the possibility of release of Ukrainian sailors captured by Russian security officers in November 2018 has been actively discussed. President Volodymyr Zelensky discussed this issue in a conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On July 17, the Lefortovsky District Court of Moscow extended the arrest of Ukrainian sailors until October 26.
On July 15, Ukrainian sailors were put on of prisoner swap list.
As reported, on November 25, 2018, Russian border guards fired on and seized three Ukrainian Navy ships, the Berdyansk, the Nikopol, and the Yani Kapu, heading from Odesa to Mariupol, near the Kerch Strait. In addition, their crewmembers, 24 Ukrainian sailors, were captured. Three of them were wounded. A Russian-controlled court in the occupied Crimea arrested all the detained Ukrainian sailors on charges of alleged illegal border crossing. They are held in a remand prison in Moscow now.
On May 25, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Russia to immediately release three Ukrainian naval vessels and 24 captured sailors.