Greenpeace Vessel Released from Russian Custody

Rob Almeida
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June 6, 2014

Greenpeace ship “Arctic Sunrise” (C) is seen anchored outside the Arctic port city of Murmansk, on the day when members of Russian Investigation Committee conducted an inspection onboard the Greenpeace ship, in this September 28, 2013 handout provided by Greenpeace. Mandatory Credit. REUTERS/Dmitri Sharomov/Greenpeace/Handout via Reuters

Greenpeace reports today that Russia’s investigative committee (IC) has annulled the arrest of the M/V Arctic Sunrise which was taken over by Russian security forces in a raid last September.

The ship has sat in Murmansk ever since.

Reacting to the news, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo commented:

“Millions of people spoke out against the illegal imprisonment of the Arctic 30, and today the final member of the group is free to come home. Our ship was arrested during an entirely peaceful protest against Arctic drilling in international waters. There was absolutely no justification either for boarding the ship or keeping her for eight months.

“This whole affair was a brazen attempt to intimidate those who believe that drilling for oil in the melting Arctic is reckless and unsafe. After months without proper maintenance our ship will need careful repairs, but like our campaign to protect the Arctic she will emerge better, fitter and stronger from this.”

Greenpeace notes the release of their ship occurred “unexpectedly during a meeting in the port city of Murmansk this morning. The ship should now be able to leave Russia in the coming days.”

Since the arrest of the Arctic Sunrise and her crew of 30 last year, Greenpeace’s campaign against drilling in the arctic hasn’t let up.  Most recently, the organization boarded a Statoil contracted rig that was enroute to a drill site in the Barents Sea as well as blocked the Gazprom rig GSP Saturn as it left the Dutch port of IJmuiden to drill in the Russian Arctic.

Greenpeace’s protest against arctic drilling is fundamentally about climate change however.  In an exclusive gCaptain interview with Captain Peter Willcox, the captain of the Arctic Sunrise, he notes,

I am afraid that as the effects of climate change become more and more obvious, our arguments will gain greater popularity and understanding.  It is so simple:  we now have five times the coal and oil we need to push global warming over the 2 degree centigrade figure, a figure James Hansen says is a recipe for disaster.  The faster we stop burning fossil fuels, the more we mitigate the damages caused by them.

But the biggest corporations in the world exist to make a profit from selling coal and oil.  It is going to be a battle.

Along with climate change, Willcox drew attention to the disregard Russia has had toward the environment with literally millions of barrels of oil spilled from drilling sites in Northern Siberia every year.

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