Russian authorities have charged five Greenpeace campaigners with piracy in Murmansk and are continuing to detain and investigate as many as 25 more. If convicted they face 10-15 years in prison.
Greenpeace’s diesel powered ship Arctic Sunrise was seized and 30 campaigners arrested after attempting to board the Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea. Details here.
The five are Roman Kieron Bryan, Dolgov, Dmitri Litvinov, Alminhana Maciel, Ana Paula, Sini Saarela; Russian Roman Dolgov. Bryan claims to be a “freelance” videographer, rather than a campaigner.
The 30 people aboard Arctic Sunrise hail from a variety of nations including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia, France, Italy, Turkey, Finland, Switzerland, Poland and Sweden.
The piracy charges surprised many after Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his opinion that the Greenpeace campaigners are not pirates, although he held open the likelihood of other charges.
The incident at the Prirazlomnaya oil platform is by no means the first time that Greenpeace has raised the ire of a nation’s government. Most famously, in 1985 French special forces sunk the original Rainbow Warrior in New Zealand. However, in this case, Greenpeace workers were caught in the act of what, while may not hold up as piracy, does seem a clear violation on Russian and International law.
Bloomberg contributor Leonid Bershidsky wrote that “Russia meets its match in Greenpeace,” citing as examples France was forced to pay to Greenpeace after $8 million was awarded by an international tribunal for the sinking of the original Rainbow Warrior and the more recent acquittal of campaigners who scaled the chimney of the Kingsnorth coal power plant in the U.K. in an attempt to paint the prime minister’s name on it.
Bershidsky overlooks the simple fact that these proceedings took place within liberal democracies, something that the autocratic Russia is not.
The piracy charge seems too severe to CFACT and we think lesser charges should apply. However, we can’t help but acknowledge the irony. Greenpeace conducts ongoing campaigns for greater government control over individuals. In Russia, they may get a taste of where that leads.
Flashback: Watch CFACT change “Rainbow” to “Propaganda Warrior” and rechristen Arctic Sunrise, the ship now held in Russia, a “Ship of Lies.”