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Defying Int'l Law, Russia Says Arctic 30 Can't Leave Country

'The Russian Federation is now in clear breach of a binding order of an international tribunal'

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

In defiance of an international ruling, Russian authorities are denying a group of Greenpeace activists known as the "Arctic 30" the ability to leave the country, the environmental group announced on Friday.

(Photo: Bob Ramsak / piran café) In mid-September the 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists were forcefully arrested for engaging in an Arctic oil drilling protest off the coast of northern Russia and were held for two months and charged with hooliganism.

Russia released the detainees last month on bail, but they remained trapped in St. Petersburg as they sought exit visas

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ordered Russia last month to release the Arctic 30 along with the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and allow the 26 foreign nationals to return to their homes

But Russia's Investigative Committee wrote to one of the 30, Danish national Anne Mie Jensen, saying that the Arctic 30 was not free to leave, and that they would not ask the Federal Migration Service to issue the necessary exit visas to the group as needed, Greenpeace said in a statement on Friday.

“The Russian Federation is now in clear breach of a binding order of an international tribunal," Greenpeace International legal counsel Daniel Simons said in a statement.

"As President Vladimir Putin stated in his famous open letter to the American people on Syria, ‘The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not.’ In his State of the Nation speech yesterday in Moscow, he added: ‘We try not to lecture anyone but promote international law.’ It’s time for the authorities to act in that spirit and allow the Arctic 30 to go home to their families immediately,” Simons stated.

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, wrote in an op-ed on Friday that "peaceful protests on oil rigs in the freezing Arctic Ocean [are] the only rational response to years of deliberate inaction" on climate.

And Greenpeace has no plans on stopping this kind of response.

"We will battle to make our voices heard over the oil industry and their pliant politicians as efforts are made to drown us out, to shut us up, perhaps with a court order, perhaps in a jail cell," Naidoo wrote.

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