Karianne Bruning, legal co-ordinator Campaigns & Actions at Greenpeace International, is invited by the Environmental Policy Group to talk about the 'Arctic 30'.
In August 2013 the Greenpeace ship “Arctic Sunrise” set off on a tour to the Russian Arctic. First stop was the Northern Sea Route, a shipping lane through Arctic waters to the Far East, but the Russian authorities refused the ship entry. Then the “Arctic Sunrise” set course for Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform in the Barents Sea, which would become the first to produce oil from the ice filled Arctic seas. Greenpeace intended to bear witness to and engage in peaceful protest against the on-going preparation for oil production on the Arctic Shelf and the environmental threat that such activities represent. The Russian authorities met the protest with an unprecedented, aggressive intervention. And a day after the protest ended, the Russian Coast Guard suddenly seized the “Arctic Sunrise”, detained the crew at gunpoint and towed the ship to the port of Murmansk. The 28 Greenpeace International activists, as well as a freelance videographer and a freelance photographer, were charged with piracy, later changed into hooliganism. In December 2013 the Russian Duma formally adopted an amnesty that ended legal proceedings against the group, by then together called the ‘Arctic 30’. The Russian response sparked an international outcry and the incident has since then entered the stage of various Russian and international legal fora.
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