Russia’s arrest one month ago tomorrow, and continued detention, of 30 people associated with Greenpeace International sends a negative message on Moscow’s regard for global concerns on environmental protection, according to Green Cross International (GCI).
GCI President Alexander Likhotal said Russian authorities had shot themselves in the feet by the arrests on 19 September 2013 of 28 Greenpeace activists, a photographer and a videographer on piracy allegations.
“The main message of this incident is the fact that, unfortunately, the Russian judicial system is being used as a tool not to preserve the environment, but to secure corporate interests under the laughable allegations of ‘piracy,’” Mr Likhotal said.
Noted polar region campaigner and photographer Sebastian Copeland, a board member of GCI’s American chapter, Global Green USA, said the Arctic region is one of the world’s fasted changing, and most at risk, natural systems, which required urgent preservation, not commercial exploitation.
“The dangers associated with a spill from drilling in that region are in the order of 33%-51% percent per platform , with little in the way of cleanup strategies given the hostile environment,” Mr Copeland said. “This does not even factor in Gazprom’s questionable safety record. With such odds, and with little in the way of an effective cleanup strategy, drilling within the Arctic borders on criminal. These Greenpeace activists acted on behalf of the planet as a whole. They are not criminals.”
GCI President Alexander Likhotal agreed, saying: “The Greenpeace activists are committed individuals who are concerned about the wanton destruction and neglect of the Arctic. Their detention on totally absurd allegations serves nothing, except to alert the world to the reckless attitude that Russian authorities possess towards the fragile Arctic environment. Vested interest and cronyism, not the law and national interests, are the forces driving this case.”
“Joining the Greenpeace activists and the Artic on the list of ‘victims’ associated with this unfortunate episode is the ‘international prestige’ of the Russian Federation, which has been badly damaged by the apparent careless attitude that the authorities there are taking towards both justice and the environment,” Mr Likhotal said.
GCI was founded in 1993 by Nobel Peace Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev and is an independent non-profit and nongovernmental organization advocating and working globally to address the inter-connected global challenges of security, poverty eradication and environmental degradation through advocacy and local projects. GCI is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and conducts on-the-ground projects in more than 30 countries around the world.
Director of Communications
Green Cross International