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  Sunday, August 9, 2020
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Russian trawler captain charged with violating fishing regulations and holding two Norwegian border guards
A Russian trawler captain charged with violating fishing regulations and holding two Norwegian border guards illegally in an international incident last year denied his guilt Wednesday ahead of preliminary court hearings. The drama unfolded in October when the Norwegian Coast Guard service pursued the Elektron trawler across the Barents Sea for five days. The vessel had refused to follow Norwegian orders on October 15 to go to a port where it would be checked for alleged fisheries violations and fled into Russian waters with two Norwegian inspectors on board. But Valery Yarantsev was defiant. "It's a fabricated criminal case," he said. "I am determined to fight to the end because I am not guilty and the incident with the Norwegian Coast Guard was a well-planned provocation." Yarantsev told journalists that Russian sailors were hostage to a lack of clear-cut agreements on the Spitsbergen Archipelago between Russia and Norway. Russian trawlers have been involved in a spate of incidents with Norwegian border guards since the end of last year. Defense lawyer Vladimir Semenyuk said the criminal case initiated in November and filed with a Murmansk court in May was unique and that the defense would insist on all the charge against Yarantsev being dropped. Public prosecutor Vitaly Kiselyov said that the prosecution had requested the trial be held behind closed doors, but the defense team had objected.
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