Russia: ‘We can’t believe we’re back’ — Russian Nord ship sailor detained in Ukraine recounts ordeal

Correspondent: “Did you kiss the Crimean soil?” Pavel Chmykhalov: “We didn’t have time. Everybody hugged us and kissed. This is beyond any words.” Correspondent: “Who met you on this side? Family?” Pavel Chmykhalov: “Family didn’t know. We were recording an interview when one of journalists offered me to make a call, I asked him to call my wife. My wife picked up and I said 'Baby, I’m back... Еще home!'. She didn’t understand and didn’t believe, asked what number is that I am calling from. I just said we are in Armyansk, we are back to Crimea.” One of the seven released crew members of the Russian ‘The Nord’ fishing vessel, Pavel Chmykhalov, discussed the ordeal the sailors went through in Ukrainian detention, speaking in Crimea's Kerch on Thursday. Chmykhalov said the sailors had been forced to drink dirty water and to “ease ourselves right on the deck when it was zero or minus degrees Celsius outside because the sewage tanks were full. It was hard till the lawyers came.” “Till we crossed the border and stepped on our soil we didn’t believe it. We don’t believe even now frankly speaking,” Chmykhalov said of the moment the sailors were exchanged for seven Ukrainian sailors on October 30. The vessel was detained on March 25 by the Ukrainian border guard service in the Azov Sea as it “caused harm” to Ukraine's interests and “violated the rules” of visiting Crimea. The vessel’s captain Vladimir Gorbenko still remains in Ukraine and as he faces criminal charges. Chmykhalov said the crew will wait for their captain’s release, and then set sail again since “we have spent our whole lives at sea.”

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