25 October 2013
The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation has officially filed fresh charges against one of the members of the Arctic Sunrise team, Andrei Allakhverdov. He has been charged with hooliganism under Article 213(2) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Other activists are now also facing charges of hooliganism, which can carry a prison sentence of up to seven years.
According to Ben Ayliffe, a spokesman for Greenpeace International, "The Arctic Sunrise team is guilty of neither piracy nor hooliganism. There is no justification whatsoever for keeping them behind bars in Murmansk. This was an entirely peaceful protest in international waters aimed at highlighting Gazprom’s harebrained scheme to drill in the Arctic. Eleven warning shots were fired into the water next to the protestors, who were threatened with guns and knives and arrested on fabricated charges in order to protect the interests of Gazprom Neft. Is it not clear who the hooligans are?”
“The prisoners include a young woman who helped to collect books and clothes for children from destitute families before her trip to the Arctic. Nearly all of them have families, and some have children. These are people with a clear conscience and it is nothing short of ludicrous to accuse them of hooliganism,” added Ayliffe.
As reported by Grani.ru, the European Union has also expressed its concern about the Arctic Thirty. On Wednesday, over 90 Members of the European Parliament signed a declaration of solidarity calling for the immediate release of the prisoners. The MEPs also state that the charges of hooliganism are "disproportionate” and could be regarded as a threat to democracy, freedom of speech and freedom to demonstrate.
Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International, called on the Dutch oil company Shell to halt its cooperation with Gazprom on the Arctic project given that its partner is involved in a court case involving serious violations of the right to freedom of expression. Although Shell is attempting to distance itself from the controversy surrounding the Arctic Thirty and claims to have nothing to do with the events in Russia, it cannot hide behind its Russian partner for ever.
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