Last week there were important developments in the case of the Arctic 30, the Greenpeace activists who were jailed in Russia on September 27 of this year and are facing hooliganism charges. Firstly the ship’s radio operator, Colin Russell, had his detention extended by three months pending a trial, and secondly Kieron Bryan, the journalist on board the Arctic Sunrise, had his hearing delayed without apparent reason. Thirdly, Ana Paula, photographer Denis Sinyakov and doctor Ekaterina were granted bail.
After an initial charge of piracy, which carries a possible prison stay of fifteen years, the protestors are now being held under accusations of hooliganism; in Russia, this carries a maximum sentence of seven years. Every extra day spent in a Russian jail is an affront to human and legal rights, including the vital right to peaceful protest.
Support for the Arctic 30 has escalated globally in the months since their protest against arctic drilling. A video has also been posted on the site showing Faiza Oulahsen, one of the 30, thanking supporters, saying “you give us hope, you give us strength”. Members of the public are able to lend a voice to the argument in various ways provided by Greenpeace including donations and signing a petition on their website aimed at pressuring energy giants Shell, Gazprom, and the Russian ambassador to release the Arctic 30. The court proceedings are also being streamed live from St Petersburg.
The Arctic 30 case will no doubt continue to unravel over the coming weeks, with significant consequences for Greenpeace and the prospect of oil drilling in the Arctic.