Russia: Lawyers Seek Exit Visas for the Arctic 30
Lawyers for the Greenpeace activists which were recently released on bail after being charged for piracy for taking part in a protest against Gazprom’s Arctic drilling plans have this week started to lodge applications with the Investigative Committee seeking exit visas for the non-Russian nationals.
If the applications are approved, the foreign nationals would be allowed to leave Russia to await ongoing investigations into the Greenpeace International Arctic protest at a Gazprom-operated Arctic oil platform in September
All of the foreign nationals, 26 people from 17 nations, have had their passports returned to them after their release on bail from detention last month. However, they do not have the correct visa allowing them to leave Russia and are currently staying at a hotel in St Petersburg.
Separate applications for exit visas will need to be made for all of the non-Russian nationals in coming days and formally, the Investigative Committee must respond to the request within three days.
Jasper Teulings, General Counsel at Greenpeace International, said:
“This is a unique situation where the Arctic 30 were charged and then bailed inside Russia after they were detained in international waters beyond Russia’s territorial waters. We are hopeful this issue can be resolved. Greenpeace will continue to contest the charge of hooliganism and demand the dismissal of all charges.”
Lawyers are also petitioning the lead investigator to clarify when the Arctic 30 will be needed for the investigation and to obtain assurances that they will be allowed back into Russia if required.
Ben Ayliffe, Arctic campaigner at Greenpeace International, added:
“Since their release, the Arctic 30 have had medical checks, have talked to or had visits from loved ones and are getting plenty of food, care and rest. Greenpeace cannot be certain whether the exit visas will be granted and we cannot promise when our friends will be able to leave Russia, but we are doing our best to get them home as soon as possible. They have already paid an absurd and excessive price for an entirely peaceful and justified protest against the dangers of Arctic oil drilling.”
In a case lodged by the Netherlands, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) ordered Russia in a binding ruling last month to release the Greenpeace Dutch-flagged ship Arctic Sunrise and the Arctic 30 upon posting of a 3.6 million euro bond in the form of a bank guarantee by the Netherlands.
The Netherlands and Russia were on Monday obligated to report back to the Tribunal on progress towards compliance with the order. The Dutch Foreign Ministry has said it finalised the bank guarantee last week and has now reported back to the Tribunal.
”We at Greenpeace welcome confirmation that the Netherlands has fulfilled its part of the Tribunal’s binding order. Russia is obligated to also comply by releasing the Arctic Sunrise and the Arctic 30 and Greenpeace assumes the Russian Federation will fully comply,” Teulings added.
December 05, 2013