Jessie the Dog Leaves Russian Custody — Gets Borsch
The dog Jessie was detained by Russian border guards with 24 Ukrainian sailors who were charged with the illegal border crossing
Jessie the dog was held captive for eight months after she and 24 Ukrainian sailors — now considered prisoners of war — were attacked and captured by Russian border guards. For months lawyers fought for the release of Jessie, at the request of the sailors themselves.
Friendly and playful, Jessie is beginning to feel at home here with the parents of Ukrainian sailor Serhiy Chuliba. The mechanic of tug boat Yany Kapu is one of the 24 Ukrainian sailors held captive by Russia since November 2018. Serhiy’s father calls the dog the boat’s 25th crew member — and the first to be released from captivity.
Jessie was onboard the Yani Kapu when the tug boat and two other navy vessels were illegally blocked by the Russian coast guard from passing through Kerch Strait on its way to Ukraine’s Azov Sea port of Mariupol.
The three vessels had to turn around and head back to Odesa. They were then chased by the Russian coast guard in neutral waters of the Black Sea, fired at, rammed and seized by the Russian special forces.
Three of the 24 Ukrainian navy sailors were wounded in the attack. All 24 are being charged with the illegal border crossing and are held in a Moscow prison.
The dog Jessie was detained by Russian border guards and held for eight months in the Russian-occupied Crimea. Eventually, an arrangement was made and a Crimean journalist sneaked Jessie onto mainland Ukraine where the dog was offered to Serhiy Chuliba’s parents
It took Jessie two week to acclimatize at her new home after 8 months in Russian captivity.
“She would just bare her teeth all the time, afraid of everything. Cowering at every noise. After a week she adapted a little,” Serhiy Chuliba’s mother sad.
Now Jessie is at ease enough to enjoy treats — Ukrainian borshch is her favourite. The dog, however, is yet to make friends with the five cats living in the household.
Serhiy Chuliba’s parents say, the release of Jessie is symbolic and gives them hope that they will see their son soon.
“We hope that, if the dog’s back, we’ll soon have our child back and all the other sailors. Why must they stay there? They’ve not guilty of anything,” Serhiy Chuliba’s mother said.
From Russian prison, the sailor writes letters to his parents. They arrive with a three-month delay.
Charged with illegal border crossing, and if they found guilty, the 24 sailors can face up to six years in prison.
In May 2019 the International Tribunal on the Law the Sea ruled that the imprisonment of Ukrainian navy men by Russia is illegal and demanded Moscow to release the servicemen and the seized vessels. The Kremlin ignored the ruling.