Amnesty in Russia for Greenpeace activists, Pussy Riot, and many others. “Save the Arctic!”

The Russian Parliament has formalized an amnesty that also concludes the legal proceedings initiated against the Arctic30, 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists that on the 18th september were arrested by the Russian Coast Guard. They were accused of piracy first and then of vandalism, after a peaceful demonstration at the platform Prirazlomnaya for oil extraction in Arctic Russia, to protest against Gazprom drilling. Also the two Pussy Riot Nadia Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina could be freed soon. They are in prison on charges of hooliganism for a punk rock anti-Putin performance in the cathedral of Moscow, with a sentence of two years. The bill provides amnesty for those convicted of offenses involving less than 5 years imprisonment and the accused of minor offenses with a pending trial, including that of hooliganism, the mothers of minor children, minors, people with disabilities, veterans. According to many observers , it is a move aimed at appeasing critics to Russia in the imminence of Winter Olympics Games in Sochi, scheduled in February.

The Arctic30 group

The 26 non-Russian Greenpeace activists will be free to return home to their families as soon as they will have the exit visa from the Russian authorities. Among them, Cristian D’Alessandro, one Italian, said: «It seems that I can finally go home. I’m still pretty angry, because there is an international court that has ordered our immediate release. We spent more than two months in jail for nothing, they’re still looking for evidence that they will never find because, according to our principles of pacifism and nonviolence , there is nothing that can be traced back to the accusations of vandalism or piracy. It’s been three months since this all started , – concluded D’Alessandro – so yes , I want to go home!».

Peter Willcox, captain of the Arctic Sunrise, the Greenpeace ship, said: «I might soon be able to return home to my family but I would never had to be charged and imprisoned . We embarked to witness the threat that the environment is suffering and our ship was boarded by masked men with guns and knives . Now it’s almost over and we could soon be free, but there is no amnesty for the Arctic . The Arctic remains a very fragile global treasure threatened by the oil companies and rising temperatures. We went there to protest this madness. We have never been criminal».

But why the activists were protesting against Gazprom? As stated on the website of Greenpeace, “primarily because the Prirazlomnaya would have the dubious distinction of being the first platform for operation in an area where 2/3 of the year the sea is frozen. The Arctic oil is tempting to many, but it does not solve the energy problems: it is a marginal amount globally. In return we risk an environmental disaster without precedent existing technologies to intervene in an oil accident do not work at such low temperatures as the Arctic. It would be a total disaster, would be involved in an accident up to 3000 miles of coastline. It certainly would not pay to Gazprom, but the citizens and the environment». More on the Save the Arctic campaign: www.savethearctic.org

Once the draft amnesty law will be approved is approved, it is still unclear whether the non-Russian activists can leave the country. They currently do not have the necessary stamps on their passports since they moved to Russia by the Coast Guard after being illegally boarded in international waters. The fate of the Arctic Sunrise, currently detained in Murmansk, remains uncertain, although the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea set it on its release from seizure.

The campaign to free the Arctic 30 has seen 860 protests in more than 46 countries and more than 150 cities worldwide. More than two and a half million people have written to Russian embassies. Messages of support have come from Paul McCartney, Madonna, Jude Law, Ricky Martin, Darín , Alejandro Sanz, Pedro Almodóvar and other famous personalities. Political figures such as Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Angela Merkel, David Cameron, Francois Hollande, Ban Ki-moon and Hillary Clinton, along with Nobel prize winners such as Desmond Tutu, Aung San Suu Kyi have also requested the release of Arctic30.

The 3 Pussy Riot , Nadezhda Tolokonnikova , Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina , were arrested because they sang an anti-Putin prayer masked on the 21th February 2012 in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. On the 17th August, they were sentenced to two years in prison. Yekaterina was then discharged. The other two are still in prison and Nadezhda, after a hunger strike, was sent to Siberia. Pussy Riot is a feminist punk collective born in Moscow in the summer of 2011, the day when it was announced the return of Putin. Their art lies in public performances of political dissidence.

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