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Russia, Ukraine In Talks Over Crimean Lighthouse

Yalta lighthouse (file photo) (ITAR-TASS) 14 January 2006 -- Russia dispatched a group of senior naval officers today for talks with Ukrainian officials to try to resolve a dispute over a lighthouse on the Crimean Peninsula.

Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said the group on its way to the Crimean port city of Yalta was headed by Russia's Black Sea Fleet commander.

The dispute erupted on 13 January when a group of Ukrainian officials barred Russian personnel from entering the Yalta lighthouse. Russia today reported an attempt by a group of Ukrainian activists to enter another lighthouse on the peninsula.

Russia accused Ukraine of seizing the Yalta lighthouse, which it said was part of Russia's Black Sea Fleet navigation facilities. Ukraine says the lighthouse belongs to Ukraine.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk today insisted the Crimean lighthouses belong to Ukraine and said there are no legal grounds for Russia to hold them.

Russian navy commander Admiral Vladimir Masorin said the Yalta lighthouse must be returned to the Black Sea Fleet.

(Interfax, ITAR-TASS)