Saturday, December 28, 2013

Free At Last

Greenpeace International announces that Arctic Sunrise crew members including two journalists are finally going home. All but one of the 26 non-Russian "Arctic 30" were issued their exit visas at the time of the Greenpeace press release.

Twitter has been lively with the information, tracking progress.  Below, Mannes Ubels of the Netherlands gets the great news:
Faiza Oulahsen of the Netherlands:
A plane with all six Britons and one of two Canadians, Alexandre Paul, left Saint Petersburg heading for Paris.  (Guardian video below.)  They made it to London:
Twitter reports that Canadian Paul Ruzycki is also out, arrived in Toronto: reports that Argentina activists Camila Speziale and Miguel Hernan Perez Orsi arrive Saturday morning via Air France in Ezeiza, family members having spoken to them by phone in Paris.

Australian activist Colin Russell is reported out of Russia, bound for Amsterdam, first, where Greenpeace International is located.  He is expected back in Hobart January 2nd.

New Zealand activists Jonathan Beauchamp and David John Haussman are reported in transit.  Mr. Beauchamp lives in Australia.

Italian activist Cristian D'Alessandro was reported as arriving in Naples today.  His father told reporters that he is fine, but would not provide details.

Finland activist Sini Saarela is reported back.  Speaking to a crowd of reporters as she arrived in Helsinki, she described the Russian amnesty (video at link) as a publicity stunt.

Danish activist Anne Mie Roer Jensen landed in Copenhagen after having described, on the way out, "100 days of theater of the absurd" while expressing the group's commitment to end oil drilling in the Arctic.

Turkish activist Gizem Akhan is reported as having arrived home in Istanbul (video at link).

Activist and biologist Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel of Brazil is on her way back.

Arctic Sunrise Captain and American Peter Henry Willcox is described in the photo taken below as leaving for the departure lounge at the Saint Petersburg airport:

In this photo released by Greenpeace, Greenpeace International activist Captain Peter Willcox of the U.S. leaves for the departure lounge at St. Petersburg airport, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Friday, Dec. 27, 2013. Greenpeace activists released from custody following an amnesty over their protest in the Russian Arctic say they have no regrets. (AP Photo/Greenpeace International/ Dmitri Sharomov)

RMF 24 reports that Tomasz Dziemianczuk of Poland received his exit visa and flies Sunday from Saint Petersburg to Warsaw.

Ruslan Yakushev of the Ukraine has left Russia and is returning home. 

Dima Litvinov, a Soviet born Swedish activist, was the first 
to leave the country, taking a train across the border to Finland.

News is still awaited concerning Francesco Pisanu of France and Marco Weber of Switzerland.

The Russian activists released include the ship's physician Ekaterina Zaspa, international journalist Andrey Allakhverdov, international photojournalist Denis Sinyakov, and translator Roman Dolgov.

Departing activists speaking with reporters expressed relief that they were going home, while maintaining their innocence, deep concern about invasive oil drilling in the Arctic, and their commitment to stop drilling in this fragile region of our planet.

Dima Litvinov told press,  "I'm glad that this chapter is over but the book still remains to be written.  As long as there's threat for the Arctic, as long as there's multinational companies like Gasprom, like Shell, like Exxon - and the puppet regimes intent on raping the Arctic - we'll certainly continue to fight against that and work towards a sane future."  

He also said, “I’ve never regretted what we did, not once, not in prison and definitely not now. Sometimes you just have to stand up and ask to be counted, and that’s what we did in the Arctic. They didn’t throw us in jail for what we did, they locked us up because of what we stood for."

More in the Guardian video below as activists departed Russia:

*Photo credit/top, Via Times Live,"Twenty-six of the Arctic 30 (24 Greenpeace International activists and two freelance journalists) pose in St. Petersburg, in this December 3, 2013 handout from Greenpeace. The four not pictured are: Francesco Pisanu of France, Andrey Allakhverdov of Russia, Tomasz Dziemianczuk of Poland and Ekaterina Zaspa of Russia."

Editor's Update, 1.1.2014.  The Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo has confirmed reports that all 26 non-Russian Greenpeace activists have left Russia.

Swiss Greenpeace Activist Marco Weber back in Switzerland where he tells the press that he would do it again:

Another photo of Paul Ruzycki in Toronto:

A thank you video is circulating:

And, now it's time for the ship to be returned:

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