Russia sets 'high price' for release of Lithuanian trawler: lawyer

7th October 2014, Comments 0 comments

A Russian court on Tuesday demanded a bond of almost $3 million dollars for the release of a Lithuanian trawler seized by border guards to the alarm of the EU, a lawyer for the vessel's owner said.

The European Union had called for the release of the fishing boat following its "forced apprehension" on September 18 with a crew of nearly 30 on board in what it said were international waters in the Barents Sea.

Russian border guards towed the vessel, the Juros Vilkas, to the northern port city of Murmansk after accusing it of illegally fishing for crabs, claims denied by Lithuania.

Lawyer Vladimir Odiagail described the 113.8 million ruble ($2.85 million, 2.26 million euros) tariff as "a very high price".

The boat's Lithuanian owner Giedrius Grudzys told AFP that his company would appeal the decision.

Grudzys said the price set by the court was "out of proportion because it is nearly twice the value of the boat."

The incident comes at a time of heightened tension between the Baltic states and their former Soviet master over Russia's recent resurgence and the conflict in Ukraine, where government forces are battling pro-Kremlin separatists.

Last month, fellow Baltic state Estonia accused Moscow of abducting a border policeman at gunpoint from its territory. Russia accused him of spying.

© 2014 AFP

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