'Arctic 30' Takes on Russia Over 'Grossly Excessive' Arrest

Greenpeace calling for 'just compensation' over 'completely disproportionate' use of force

Activists from Greenpeace's "Arctic 30" group, who were detained in Russia last year after staging a protest on a Russian drilling rig in Arctic waters, filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights on Monday calling for "just compensation" from the Russian government over what they say was a series of rights abuses throughout the ordeal.

The Arctic 30 were held for more than two months in "some of Russia's most notorious detention facilities," living with "the fear that they could spend years locked up for a crime they did not commit," the group writes.

The protesters were arrested at gunpoint and their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, was towed by Russian authorities to the Russian port of Murmansk where it is still held.

The activists--who say their protest at the rig owned by oil company Gazprom was peaceful--were first charged with "piracy" until authorities knocked those charges down to "hooliganism." They say their "rights to freedom of expression and liberty" were violated by Russia in the period they were held.

Lawyer for the group Sergey Golubok said the Arctic 30 was "apprehended and detained in flagrant violation of applicable international and Russian laws."

"The reaction of the Russian authorities was completely disproportionate to the peaceful protest that took place," said Golubok. "These activists tried to shine a light on the risks of Arctic oil drilling, and yet they were met with a response that bore no relation to their actions."

In addition to calling for compensation for damages relating to the "grossly excessive" arrest and detention and the costs related to their legal defense in Russia and the European court, the group is calling on the Russian government to declare its actions were illegal and breached rights afforded them in the European Convention on Human Rights.


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