MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) – Numerous supporters of 30 Greenpeace activists detained and charged with piracy in Russia staged a series of demonstrations across the world on Saturday calling for their release.
Thousands of people reportedly took part in about 100 demonstrations held on all continents, including cities like London, Moscow, Madrid, Hong Kong and Toronto, among others, according to the environment organization.
The protesters urged Russia’s authorities to free the 30 people from 18 countries held onboard of the Arctic Sunrise icebreaker, including a British videographer and a Russian photographer, after they were placed in custody for two months in the Russian northern city of Murmansk.
Greenpeace supporter called Saturday the day of global solidarity with those arrested, which kicked off in New Zealand. Moscow-based supporters gathered at the city’s central Gorky Park on Saturday afternoon. While actor Jude Law, Blur frontman Damon Albarn and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood were among some 800 people who attended the protest with posters and photographs outside the Russian Embassy in London, according to the organizers.
All the 30 people detained on the ship are now awaiting a trial on piracy charges related to the September 18 incident, in which some of the activists tried to scale the Russian oil rig of Gazprom Neft Shelf in the Pechora Sea.
Russia’s actions have prompted an international response among the countries whose nationals are now in jail.
Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague has raised the case with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, Reuters reported on Saturday.
Speaking in Indonesia during the APEC meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders, Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that Australia is “concern about the case.” Australian nationals are among those charged in Russia.The crew included two Dutch nationals, what prompted the Netherlands to launch a legal action, saying that Russia unlawfully detained them on the Dutch-registered ship.
Moscow shrugged off the proceedings saying that Russian officials made repeated attempts to contact their Dutch counterparts “to intervene in the vessel’s illegal activities” over the last year and a half, Russian Foreign Ministry deputy head Alexei Meshkov told RIA Novosti.
“Unfortunately, this was not done. Therefore we have significantly more questions for the Dutch side than they can have for us,” RIA Novosti cites Meshkov as saying, adding that “everything that happened with Arctic Sunrise is pure provocation.”
Greenpeace International's director says Russia's seizure of its ship "Arctic Sunrise" and the arrest of its crew is the worst "assault" on the group's environmental activism since its flagship "Rainbow Warrior" was bombed in 1985, Associated Press reported.
Replaces a story by AP about Greenpeace facing one of the worst threats in its history.