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AÔÔÈËÈÐÎÂÀÍÍÛÉ ×ËÅÍ ITF
SEAFARERS' UNION OF RUSSIA (AFFILIATED WITH ITF)
A NON-UNIONIZED SEAFARER
IS AN UNPROTECTED SEAFARER
On October 15, they left Klaipeda and headed to Kaliningrad, from where they arrived in Moscow by plane and took a train to their hometown.
Recall that m/v Viva Trininty (IMO 9193692, flag of Panama) has been anchored near the port of Klaipeda since September. Earlier, two members of the ship's crew required medical assistance. So, on October 6 and 17, the shipowner (the Turkish company Unity Navigation Denizcilik AS), hired an expensive boat for a substantial amount of money, and the sailors were transported ashore to the hospital. Then one of the crewmembers was diagnosed with problems with the heart and blood pressure. The other suffered from severe pain in the knee: the examination showed inflammation of the tendons, joint, problems with the meniscus.
The seafarers were returned to the ship, although they were advised to leave for Russia for further examination and treatment. However, this has become a difficult task. Despite of need for repatriation, the border services did not issue transit visas to the sailors. At the same time, they referred to a formal reason – they say that the ship is not in the port itself, but at the anchorage, and legally the seafarers are not in Lithuania.
In response, the company appealed to all possible authorities, including the Panamanian authorities. Russian diplomats were involved; they contacted the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry. Eventually, with the permission of the local authorities, the sailors were first transported ashore and settled in a hotel, the visa issue was resolved, and they were finally able to go home.
Earlier it was also reported that Viva Trinity had problems with the provision of food, water and fuel related to the rules applicable to ships standing in the roadstead. According to Igor Kovalchuk, First Deputy chairman of the Seafarers Union of Russia, at the moment the stocks of food and fuel have been replenished and there is no shortage. There is a mixed crew on board, which includes at least seven Russians.
It should be noted that in connection with the special operation in Ukraine, many European countries have changed the border requirements for citizens of the Russian Federation. In particular, Lithuania has closed borders for tourists from Russia with any valid Schengen visa since September 19, 2022. Seafarers who were going to and from the ship also faced various problems at border crossings to European countries: from the confiscation of wages due to the existence of restrictions on the export of currency from Europe to Russia to bans on crossing the border by bus with a driver and the need to get to the ship on their own.
«However, the current political situation should not affect the rights of seafarers enshrined in international law.Thus, according to the Maritime Labor Convention, a crewmember should have the right to repatriation in case of illness or injury, or for other medical reasons that require their repatriation, if doctors consider him suitable for transportation. No far-fetched pretexts should become an obstacle to this. I am glad that in the end the situation was resolved in favor of the sailors and the Lithuanian authorities still gave them a legitimate opportunity to repatriate»,- mentioned Igor Kovalchuk