The SUR sent a request to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation on measures to respect the legal rights of Russian citizens employed as part of the crews on board the Russian and foreign vessels and to ensure the sustainable functioning of Maritime navigation in the context of countering the spread of coronavirus infection (COVID 2019) on the territory of the Russian Federation.
The reason for the appeal was the situation in the port of Murmansk where on March 15 until today the crew of the t/x NS Artic owned by the Sovcomflot could not be discharged under the pretext of spreading a coronavirus infection. Despite the fact that there is an order of the Government of the Russian Federation from 16.03.2020 635-p, according to which the restriction on entry to the Russian Federation does not apply to members of the crews of sea and river vessels, the Governor of the Murmansk region issued his decree. According to this document the Harbour Masters of the ports located in the region from 17.03.2020 are prohibited until special instructions to allow the shore leave of crewmembers of all vessels that arrived from foreign countries if less than 14 calendar days have passed since the arrival of the vessel and the moment of its contact with the coast of a foreign state. In order to achieve the discharging and replace the crew the SUR sent a request to the North-Western Prosecutor in order to take measures and eliminate the offenses and it gave a positive result. But within the next week two more vessels will call Murmansk and the Governor's decree has not been canceled so it entails additional expenses for air tickets, hotel accommodation, and so on. This is direct discrimination against the rights of crewmembers moreover it's groundless, the Seafarers Union of Russia noted.
"Where there are no unreasonable bans and the authorities are thinking about how to solve the problem without directly restricting everything, including changing the crews of vessels, everything is in normal way and properly works. Yesterday, for example, in the port of Ust-Luga, within a few hours the arrival of the SIBUR Voronezh was cleared in compliance with all the quarantine rules, " says Yuriy Sukhorukov, the Chairman of the SUR, a member of the Maritime Board under the Government of the Russian Federation. And there were no problems with changing the crew, unlike the Murmansk sea port".
The SUR indicates that in compliance with the law "On sanitary and epidemiological welfare of the population" the Chief public state physician of the Russian Federation issued decree on 18.03.2020 "On providing isolation to prevent the spread COVID-2019". In according with the document the highest level officials of constituent entities of the Russian Federation must ensure the isolation of all persons coming into the country for the period of 14 days from the day of their arrival. At the same time it is prescribed to hem to stay at home (if possible) or to organize isolation in medical settings. Control over the implementation of this resolution is entrusted to the heads of territorial agencies of Rospotrebnadzor.
Thus, the current legislation of the Russian Federation does not contain any restrictive measures regarding the rights of citizens of the Russian Federation to freedom of movement within the country, which means that the actions of the authorities of the Murmansk region to restrict the change of crews are illegal.
“In the context of a pandemic such measures are unacceptable – says Yuriy Sukhorukov. – Hundreds of seafarers are out of work and waiting to get on the flight because they have to feed their families, but they can't get on board the vessels while their places are occupied by other crewmembers due to contract extensions. On the other hand, hundreds of seafarers are also waiting to be signed off. Almost all major ports have restricted the shore leaves so we receive a lot of complaints as that it is impossible to sign off even where the shore leave and discharging is not dangerous. Therefore we will keep this situation under control and ensure that the decree of the Governor of the Murmansk region related in limiting the change of crews was canceled".