- Jul 2011
Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise ship enters the Northern Sea Route off Russia's coastline to protest Arctic oil drilling in defiance of Russian authorities. Will Rose / Greenpeace
Russia has been ordered to pay 5.4 million euros ($6.25 million) in damages to the Netherlands for seizing the “Arctic Sunrise” Greenpeace ship and detaining its crew in 2013.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration said in an online statement on Tuesday that Russia had violated the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea by boarding the ship without consent and detaining crew members.
“Russia breached its obligations under the Convention by boarding, investigating, inspecting, arresting, detaining, and seizing the Arctic Sunrise, a vessel flying the Dutch flag, without the prior consent of the Netherlands, and by arresting, detaining, and initiating judicial proceedings against the thirty persons on board that vessel,” the court said.
The damages include compensation of 1.69 million euros for damage to the vessel and 600,000 euros “for non-material damage to the Arctic 30 for their wrongful arrest, prosecution, and detention in Russia.”
It all started when a bunch of Greenpeace activists went up on their rubber boats from their ship, to Gazprom's new Arctic oil platform, Prirazlomnaya
They hoisted themselves up the side of the platform and set up these tents, of sorts
The tents would offer them some protection, however flimsy, from powerful firehoses the oilmen turned on them from above to drive them away
That's cold water, in already frosty Arctic temperatures, remember. I do respect what these folks willingly endure for their cause. Some of the activists also claim the rig workers dropped heavy objects on them from above too. Who knows. I can understand those men also, defending their livelihood... Dangerous stunt, all in all.
Later, some masked men appeared, and chased away the Greenpeace, pulling guns on the more stubborn ones
Reportedly FSB agents. One of them deliberately punctured a GP boat with his knife.
Later yet, a Coast Guard warship caught up with the Greenpeace ship, and armed men landed on board from a helicopter
The CG warship fired warning shots across their bow, during the incident
This is despite the fact that the activists themselves made no hostile action; including, as you see in the video, they raised their hands and offered no resistance when the armed agents boarded their vessel from the chopper.
Nor, frankly, did those servicemen, clearly, expect any violent engagement, since they didn't even bother to put on any fucking body armor! They themselves knew these people were bloody harmless...
Nonetheless, the whole crew, which included Dutch citizens, and other Europeans, as well as a couple Canadians and some Russians also, were arrested and charged with piracy.
The ship was taken to Murmansk
Eventually, after negotiations, yes, the foreigners (NOT the Russian crew members) were amnestied, and their ship released.
But, message to GP was sent, loud and clear: keep out of Russian waters...
And that's the thing, btw... I actually have to side with the Russian government here, by the law: the Greenpeace ship was in their territorial waters, engaging in illegal activity, technically (though "piracy" is one hell of a stretch...)
They had the right to arrest those people, it doesn't matter whose citizens they may have been.
As I was told when learning about travelling abroad with my Canadian passport, having the passport does not give me immunity from laws of other countries. If I commit crimes in another country, I am still subject to consequences according to that country's laws :smiley-shrug:
Anyway, given Russia's record of noncompliance with international courts, this decision won't mean much, tbey probably won't pay. Still, a kind of symbolic win for Greenpeace, I guess.