Russian authorities terminate investigation into Arctic 30 protest after twelve months
by James Turner
October 1, 2014
Russias Investigative Committee (IC) has ended a year-long investigation into a peaceful protest at an Arctic oil rig last year which led to the imprisonment of 28 activists and two freelance journalists who became known as the Arctic 30.
Greenpeace lawyers were informed of the decision by telephone yesterday. The investigation had continued for over eight months after the activists were released from prison under the terms of an official amnesty in December 2013. Their ship, the icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, was subsequently released in June this year.
Reacting to the news, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said:
Todays news brings great relief to the Arctic 30 and their families who have faced a year of uncertainty after an entirely peaceful protest. However, we cannot understand how it took the Investigative Committee a year to establish what was clear from the start: that these people are passionate activists, not pirates.
“In December the Arctic 30 received an amnesty when it became obvious that their treatment was unfair and disproportionate. Since this story began, the Investigative Committee has tried to bend the rule of law to persecute those who dare to oppose Arctic oil drilling. This persecution has had the opposite effect, and our movement is much stronger both in Russia and around the world.
We will continue to take action in defence of the Arctic whether in Russia, the US or anywhere else. We have millions of people with us and the powerful wind of change in our sails.
Since the activists were released, Greenpeace has continued a high profile campaign against oil drilling in the offshore Arctic. Over the summer, protests took place against Norwegian state-owned oil company Statoil as well as against Royal Dutch Shell, which plans to drill in the US Arctic next summer.
The Arctic 30 spent over two months in prison on charges of piracy and then hooliganism following a peaceful protest at Gazproms Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the remote Pechora sea on September 18th 2013.
An international outcry – which included Nobel Peace Prize winners, sitting Presidents and millions of individual people – eventually helped bring about their release.
In March, lawyers acting on their behalf applied to the European Court of Human Rights, asking it to rule that their detention was arbitrary and the actions of the Russian authorities violated the right to freedom of expression.
A new documentary film about the Arctic 30 story can be previewed at http://blackicemovie.net/