Ukraine’s state investigation bureau has opened a criminal case and started probing possible high treason charges against former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko over the incident in the Kerch Strait, the bureau’s press office reported on Tuesday.
Ukraine’s state investigation bureau investigates crimes committed by the country’s top officials, TASS reports.
The state investigation bureau has opened the criminal case against Poroshenko based on a statement submitted by ex-Deputy Head of the Administration of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, and attorney Andrei Portnov on May 20.
The lawyer requested instituting criminal proceedings against Poroshenko on criminal counts committed by the supreme commander-in-chief in the November 25, 2018 incident when a group of Ukrainian naval ships was transiting the Kerch Strait.
"Poroshenko’s actions were aimed at deliberately provoking the Russian Federation for retaliatory and easily foreseen aggressive actions in a tense situation, which caused losses in the inventory of the Ukrainian Navy," the lawyer’s statement posted on his Facebook says.
Ukraine’s state investigation bureau confirmed on Tuesday it had opened the criminal case related precisely to the Kerch Strait incident late last year.
On November 25, three Ukrainian naval ships violated the procedure for passing through Russia’s territorial waters while sailing from the Azov to the Black Sea.
After having breached the Russian border, the three Ukrainian warships were warned by Russia’s maritime security forces to stop. The intruding vessels ignored the demands, thereby evoking a chase involving gunfire in the Kerch Strait whereupon three Ukrainian naval sailors ended up lightly wounded. They were later given medical assistance. Consequently, the Ukrainian warships were detained and brought to Kerch. A criminal case was opened into the violation of the Russian state border.
The ships’ crewmembers - 24 Ukrainian nationals - are currently being held in a pretrial detention center in Moscow and charged with violating the Russian border under Article 322.3 of the Russian Criminal Code. If found guilty, they may face up to six years in prison.