The final scene of a near hundred day saga is taking place this weekend as Canadian activists Paul Ruzycki and Alexandre Paul return to Canada after being held in Russia for more than three months following a peaceful protest at an Arctic oil drilling platform.
The 28 activists and two freelance journalists, including Ruzycki and Paul, who were illegally detained by Russian forces on board the Arctic Sunrise on September 19th were granted presidential pardon on December 18th after spending more than two months in prison.
“I'm very happy to be back home in Canada,” said Paul Ruzycki. “I want to thank my family for being relentless in keeping the story alive in Canada. I want to thank Greenpeace and its support team for all that they've done to secure our release. Most of all, I want to thank the people -- people from Port Colborne, people from across the planet -- who supported us through this long detention. Your letters and rallies kept up my spirits over the past 3 months. I'll be taking some private time now to be with my family and friends...and have that Christmas turkey dinner I missed. Merry Christmas!”
Throughout this time, both Ruzycki and Paul have remained passionate advocates for the future of the Arctic and have expressed deep concern about climate change and Arctic drilling.
“If there’s one thing this ordeal has revealed, it’s the lengths to which oil companies like Gazprom will go to hide their reckless drilling operations from view,” said Greenpeace Arctic Campaign Coordinator Christy Ferguson. “By going to the Arctic and protesting drilling in the very place where it is happening, Paul, Alexandre, and all the crew of the Arctic Sunrise exposed a dangerous secret to the whole world–one that will not be soon forgotten.”
On December 20th, Russian oil giant Gazprom announced it had produced the first commercial oil from its controversial Arctic drilling platform Prirazlomnaya in the remote waters of the Pechora Sea. It is the same platform which Greenpeace activists protested almost 100 days ago.