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Kiev urges Moscow to obey court order on return of naval sites

RIA Novosti

25/01/2007 17:18 KIEV, January 25 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's government urged Moscow Thursday to obey a court ruling on the return of navigation facilities being used by the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the post-Soviet state's Crimean Peninsula.

The call followed an attempt by Ukrainian bailiffs Tuesday to seize a radio navigation facility in the southwestern Crimean town of Genichesk, in keeping with a district court ruling.

But the Russian naval command refused to obey the ruling to hand over the Mars-75 installation, saying its seizure would be in breach of a bilateral agreement that allows them to use this and other navigation facilities for at least another 10 years.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet is leasing Mars-75 and other facilities in Ukraine's Crimea Autonomy at an annual rent of $93 million under a 1997 accord, which remains valid until 2017.

However, following the incident in Genichesk, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said that in the event of the Russian fleet's continued non-compliance with Ukrainian court orders, Kiev will respond with "measures stipulated by international law."

"In accordance with the Ukrainian Constitution, justice in Ukraine is administered exclusively by the courts, whose jurisdiction covers all legal disputes that may emerge in the country and whose rulings are binding all across its territory," the ministry's press office said.

Ukraine recently said Russia is not paying enough for its Black Sea Fleet's Crimean base, and demanded a new accord on inventorying the facilities.

Moscow said it will make no concessions either on the rent or on withdrawing the fleet, and that it will not tolerate any attempts to damage its sites or injure its service or civilian personnel.

Last June, Ukrainian bailiffs attempted to seize the headquarters of the Russian fleet's hydrographic service in Sevastopol.

Ukraine's Western-leaning leader, Viktor Yushchenko, has been seeking to expel the Russian Navy from Ukrainian soil since he swept into power on the back of the 2004 "orange" revolution.

He sees Russia's continued military presence as a major obstacle to his ambition to take the post-Soviet nation into NATO and the European Union.

However, Yushchenko confirmed last November that Ukraine would adhere to bilateral agreements on Russia's Black Sea Fleet, apparently bowing to pressure from the Kremlin-backed prime minister, Viktor Yanukovych.


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