GREEN PEACE "PIRATES" ARE BEING CHARGED WITH "HOOLIGANISM"
|Russian Border Guard Ship, U.S. Coast Guard Photo|
In a recent show of common sense and judicial restraint the Russian court system reduced the charges against 30 Green Peace activists who scaled an offshore platform from a Green Peace Ship from "Piracy" which carried a maximum 15 year sentence to "Holiganism" a crime carrying a maximum 7 year jail sentence. We totally agree with the Russian authorities that the Green Peace assailing trespass on the offshore rig constituted a danger to the rig, the rig's crew, and the Arctic Ocean environment. We still think a 7 year sentence would be harsh for the offense but we like the name of the charge "Hooliganism", it fits what really happened. Green Peace may be well meaning but they are arrogant and inconsiderate, and dangerous. Some of us here have had to deal with them while on active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard. We simply can not understand what makes them think that presenting collision, or trespass hazards to sensitive instruments of commerce in the marine environment, crewed by people who are doing their best to lawfully operate while protecting the environment, is some how privileged behavior, or in any way good for the environment.
Green Peace is protesting the fact that the 30 wall crawlers are still in a Russian prison. Sorry, we can't agree. We hope these well meaning but misguided fools don't have to serve 7 years, but they did the crime and so must do some time. We don't know the Russian sentencing guide lines but we'd bet they are sentenced to little more than a year, just enough to demonstrate the behavior was a felony and get time off for pretrial time served. They entered waters under Russian jurisdiction after permission for entry was denied. They insulted and violated Russian sovereignty. They harried Russian government vessels that were on scene to protect the environment, but to the Green Peace mind the only way to protect the environment is to stay out of it. They defied orders from Russian Coastal authorities launched boats from their mother ship and forced entry on an off shore rig. That action actually met the technical definition of piracy. Now the Russian judicial system has reduced the charges to the spirit of the crime, ignoring the technical opportunity to put the activists away for a very long time, and correctly labeling them hooligans.
To this Holland as flag state for the ship, and Green Peace a non state organization, offer howls of protest to Russia. We are not normally a fan of the Bear, Russia too often acts like a thug state, but in this case we have to say we have no problem with their handling of the affair so far. To Green Peace we would like to say. Quit belly aching, stop busting Russia's chops and get your crew a good skilled Russian lawyer. Stop acting like you have some sovereign right to break a nation's laws at will and substitute your judgement for that of a sovereign government. Try for a lesser included offense such as "vandalism", offer to pay a hefty fine and see if you can walk your crew out of jail for time served. Show no remorse for all of the trouble you caused and expect your crew to at least be handed a minimal felony appropriate sentence. What ever made you people think that you can routinely engage in the most dangerous civil disobedience behaviors without ever having to pay the penalties under law? To be truly effective in a political campaign that included civil disobedience you have to pay the toll. From jail you get at least the credence as a true believer and some public empathy. Acting destructively and dangerously and then demanding that you be exempt from the regular penalties gets you no traction, now or ever. Green Peace, its either time to change your tactics, or to pay the tolls.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is preparing to move 30 Greenpeace activists
who were arrested over a protest against Arctic drilling from the
far-north city of Murmansk to St. Petersburg, the environmental group
said on Friday.
The detainees, including two journalists, have been charged with
hooliganism for the September 18 protest in which the activists tried
to scale Russia's first offshore Arctic oil rig, the Prirazlomnaya,
owned by state energy company Gazprom.
Russia's Investigative Committee, which is leading the case, could not
be reached for comment and the reasons behind any such move were not
Greenpeace International head Kumi Naidoo said it would be easier for
relatives and consular officials to reach them in St. Petersburg,
about 700 km (440 miles) from Moscow, rather than in remote Murmansk.
The transfer was expected to start within days.
Naidoo said the group, whose vessel, the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic
Sunrise was forcibly boarded by Russian coast guards after the
protest, should be freed immediately.
"The detainees shouldn't be in jail at all," he said in comments
distributed by Greenpeace. "They are prisoners of conscience who acted
out of a determination to protect us all, and they should be free."
St. Petersburg will also be more convenient for state investigators.
The Investigative Committee reduced initial charges of piracy against
the activists and changed them to hooliganism, cutting the maximum
jail term from 15 years to seven, after President Vladimir Putin said
they were no pirates.
The case has blackened Russia's image in the West, with the
Netherlands lodging a legal case with the International Tribunal for
the Law of the Sea seeking to free all those under arrest.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday told a joint press conference
with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault that the case will be
handled in line with Russian law.
He reiterated Moscow's stance that the Greenpeace protest posed a
threat to the security of personnel and environmental safety by
disturbing the work at the platform.
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