Greenpeace Arctic activists denied bail in Russian court
“They have been charged with a crime that did not happen"
A regional court in Murmansk, Russia rejected an application Oct. 8 for two Russian Greenpeace activists and a photographer to be released on bail.
That doesn’t bode well for the other 27 detainees who will request bail this week, after 30 people were seized by Russian special forces on Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise vessel Sept. 19 while protesting oil exploration near the Russian Arctic National Park.
That group includes two Canadians: Ontario resident Paul D. Ruzycki and Quebec resident Alexandre Paul.
On Sept. 18, the two activists aboard Greenpeace’s ship were arrested trying to scale the Gazprom Arctic oil platform, Prirazlomnaya, in the Pechora Sea off the Arctic coastline of northwest Russia.
Russian Coast Guard officials later boarded Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise and detained everyone on board.
The prisoners have spent two weeks in jail so far, and have been charged with piracy, a crime that carries a possible 15-year sentence.
“There can be no justification for the continued detention of activists who did nothing more than express their beliefs through entirely peaceful means,” said Greenpeace’s international director Kumi Naidoo in an Oct. 8 news release.
“They have been charged with a crime that did not happen, they are being held for something nobody thinks they actually did.”
“We will not stop peacefully challenging Gazprom’s and other oil companies’ plans to drill for oil in the Arctic,” he added.
Greenpeace says the condition in which detainees are being held has violated their rights, and lawyers for the group have filed complaints to Russian authorities.
Last weekend, the Quebec government also called on Russia to release the activists, calling the charges against the group “exaggerated.”
More than 1.1 million people have sent emails to their Russian embassies and consulates demanding the immediate release of the group, Greenpeace says.