If you missed the news, the Greenpeace Arctic 30 were released on bail in Saint Petersburg, late November, and from Murmunsk prison where they were held for two months. An emotional video below as news is shared with the jailed activists and supporters. It's not over, of course, as members of the long-established non-violent organization still face possible seven year sentencing by Russian authorities. The trial is expected prior to the end of February 2014. The Greenpeace activists were arrested at knife and gunpoint in September when two members of the 30 person Arctic Sunrise crew scaled an oil rig in the Pechora Sea to non-violently protest the first oil drilling to target this highly fragile ecosystem. Plans for drilling have been coordinated between the Russian oil company Gasprom and the multi-national oil and gas corporation giant, Shell.
Greenpeace UK reports that 2.5 million people emailed the Russian embassy to demand the release of the Greenpeace activists. At long last, the Russian Embassy has replied.
Read the Greenpeace UK response here.
A phone interview here with British activist Frank Hewetson, one of the Arctic 30 currently out on bail in Saint Petersburg. He describes grim conditions in the prison, the group's hope for a moratorium on Arctic drilling, as well as hopes for their own release by the Russian government. Initial charges of "piracy" carrying 15 year sentences were reduced to "hooliganism" which still equates with extensive prison terms. Greenpeace is, again, an organization with a long-established commitment to non-violent activism, not "hooliganism," and as the Arctic action in question was clearly delineated in advance and videotaped. At a recent Greenpeace Italy running event designed to bring further attention to the current plight of the Arctic 30, and yet another example of the worldwide outpouring of support on behalf of the jailed environmentalists, one of the runners described a popular Italian Free the Arctic 30 protest sign that read, "Guilty of Pacifism," or "Colpevole di pacifismo," an apt response, one thinks, to these transparently false accusations.
*Photo credits/top, via Greenpeace Blogs, bottom, via Greenpeace UK.