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Home >> World
UPDATED: 10:33, January 14, 2006
Russia blames Ukraine for seizing lighthouse for Black Sea Fleet
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Russia accused Ukraine on Friday of blocking the normal functioning of its Black Sea Fleet by denying its servicemen access to a lighthouse linked to the fleet in the Crimean city of Yalta.

The chief and two staff members of the Yalta lighthouse, which is a part of the navigation system of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, were denied access to their working places on Friday by Yalta port guards, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The Black Sea Fleet Command accused Ukrainian authorities of violating an agreement on the fleet and demanded staff be allowed to enter the lighthouse to perform their duties.

"The Yalta lighthouse is a property of the Russian Black Sea Fleet under the agreement signed in 1997," the command said in a statement, according to the Interfax news agency.

In mid-1990s, Russia and Ukraine divided up the Soviet Black Sea Fleet after anguished talks. Under the deal, Russia leases the Sevastopol port in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula to base its ships until 2017.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it has demanded an explanation from Ukrainian authorities for the seizure, which has resulted in the closure of a facility providing for safety of civil and military vessels on the Black Sea.

"It is difficult not to regard this incident as an attempt by some Ukrainian forces to aggravate the situation surrounding the Black Sea Fleet through various provocations," ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement.

Source: Xinhua

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