Pirates Attack Russian Fishing-Boat in the Sea of Japan

Another property fight in the fishing business

The major sensation of the day is the news about the takeover of the Russian small transport vessel Tulun. The news about the takeover appeared yesterday, although the actual event happened a week ago.

Yesterday, we got on the phone with the Russian Consulate General Office in the city of Pusan, South Korea. The first news messages mentioned the port of Pusan as the nearest point to the place of the incident. Our call was answered by Vyacheslav Supikov, Russia’s Consul General.

Vyacheslav Supikov stated that pursuant to the information from the Russian diplomatic office, the Russian transport vessel Tulun was heading to the port of Pusan from Japan. The vessel was carrying fish on board. The traveling period was supposed to take about three days. However, the Tulun never showed up in the port of destination according to the original schedule.

The vessel is owned by the Region shipping company, which is based on the island of Sakhalin. The representative office of the company in Pusan was very concerned about the incident with their vessel. Soon, they managed to find out that their vessel was staying at sea not far from Korea. One of the company’s representatives decided to go to the site where the ship was staying. A man boarded another Russian fishing boat, the West Wind, that was also staying in South Korea’s Pusan. Yet, on November 16th, when the West Wind was approaching the Tulun, the latter opened gunfire.

It should be mentioned here that the Tulun ship was not isolated from the world. The ship could be accessed by means of wireless communication. On November 18th, Tulun’s mate informed that the ship had been taken over by armed people. The mate said that the people boarded Tulun from another vessel, the Korf. He added that the two ships were heading for Russian shores. The connection lasted for about a minute and then stopped.

This information reached Russian authorities by late evening of November 19th. Media outlets reported that there was an anonymous phone call in the Korean language. The Korean sea police later confirmed the information said during the phone call. Then, there was another confirmation of the incident, from the sea security department of Japan.

After that, the Russian state machine started working. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov were informed about the takeover of the Russian vessel. Russian senior officials ordered the Foreign Ministry and the Federal Border Service to control the situation. Most likely, the same instruction was given to the Defense Ministry as well. At any rate, on November 20th, a large military ship, the Admiral Panteleyev, traveled into the Sea of Japan with a group of border guards on board. Three other Russian military vessels joined later.

A briefing devoted to the incident took place yesterday. According to the information released during the briefing, the Tulun left a Japanese port on November 11th carrying 113 tons of fish aboard. When someone fired a gun at the West Wind vessel, it accumulated 20 holes, so it had to return to the port.

Then, the incident was basically a property dispute: several potential owners could not divide up either the fishing company or its vessels. In other words, this is all about the traditional criminality, albeit an unusual form.

Yesterday, a Russian An-24 border plane located the Tulun ship in international waters, some 40 miles off the Russian economic zone. Flying above the Tulun, the plane tried to contact the ship, but there was no radio contact made. An official representative of the Russian authorities rejected the information saying that the Tulun ship was accompanied with another one: the Korf (a Cambodian ship, allegedly owned by a Russian company). As an official said, the Korf was still somewhere in the port of Pusan. It was also added that the Russian Federal Border Service conducted negotiations with these ship owners, who had their eye on the Tulun vessel. Most likely, the conflict between those companies resulted in the scandal, which has already reached the Kremlin. At the same time, a version of piracy is not excluded either. Russian border guards hope for the help of their Japanese colleagues in this respect.

As a matter of fact, the whole story is not a big surprise, despite its sensational bubble. It was a logical thing to happen, especially against the background of recent tragic events in the field of the fishing industry. There are so many state structures that control the fishing industry in the country. Yet, this control does not stop pirates.

Based on the materials of the newspaper Vladivostok News


Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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