Having read the latest on the Greenpeace-30 activists detained by Russian authorities last month, I sense that they probably will be spending a few more years in prison than what some us thought just a couple of days earlier, just after it was announced that piracy charges would be dropped and that the activists would be facing the lesser charges of hooliganism.
The lesser charge was seen as a ray of hope. But that seems to be fading away.
Since then, the tones coming out of Russia have once again become notably harsher, with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commenting. The German edition of Ria Novosti writes:
The arrested Greenpeace activists from the Arctic Sunrise vessel knew what they were getting themselves into. Now we simply have to wait for the court’s decision, so says Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
‘This action was planned. All those involved very well knew who and what they would photograph,’ said Lavrov.”
Obviously Lavrov thinks they are guilty of serious offences. These remarks by Lavrov weren’t reported in the English version of Ria Novosti.
The Russian media also points out that the Greenpeace activists also have other charges to worry about, in addition to the serious charge of hooliganism. The English language Ria Novosti writes:
Russian investigators earlier said some of the detained activists could face additional charges, including ‘assault on an official on duty.’
Russia seized the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, and its multinational crew after several activists tried to scale an offshore oil rig belonging to Russia’s state-run gas giant Gazprom on September 18.”
Unfortunately, sympathy for the Greenpeace environmental activists is also running low in Russia. Ria Novosti writes:
Only 20 percent of Russians believe that the Greenpeace protest was actually in defense of the environment, whereas 42 percent think it was part of a conspiracy to take away Russia’s valuable natural resources, according to a survey released Monday by respected state-run pollster VTsIOM.”
Greenpeace management obviously had completely miscalculated in sending the activists out to protest in the Russian Arctic. When you take on Russia, you take on the whole system: judicial, political, and even the state-run pollsters. It’s awfully clear who is going to lose this one. The activists won’t be coming back anytime soon.