The South West Green Party has called for the UK Government to exert considerably more pressure on the Russian authorities to free the Greenpeace 30, as vigils take place all over the world and international efforts are made to highlight these highly controversial arrests.
Three Devonians – Alexandra Harris, Iain Rogers and Kieron Bryan – are among the 30 Greenpeace activists from 20 countries incarcerated by the authorities in Murmansk. The activists are being held on charges of piracy, something Green campaigners describe as highly dubious. Eleven Nobel Prize winners, including Desmond Tutu, have joined the international calls for these piracy charges to be dropped. The activists face 15 years’ imprisonment in Russian jails.
Ricky Knight from North Devon, one of the South West Green Party’s leading candidates for the 2014 European Elections, said: “Despite President Putin’s own reservations about the legality of the charges, no-one can underestimate the difficulties facing efforts to free these peaceful protestors.
“Following the jailing of the Pussy Riot members, increasing state-sponsored homophobia and strident Russian nationalism in the run-up to the Winter Olympics, it is high time that the UK exerted even more diplomatic pressure on the Russian authorities to ensure the speedy release of these completely harmless environmental activists.”
Greens point to Germany and the Netherlands as examples for other nations to follow. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has already made a clear appeal to Putin to expedite a quick resolution. Merkel and her governing Conservative party have been an increasingly vocal critic of Russia’s deteriorating record on human rights, despite her reliance upon Russia’s energy pipelines.
Councillor Knight added: “The UK government has been sadly ineffectual in challenging Putin and the Russian authorities, despite six British nationals being involved. They seem to be adopting a ‘softly, softly’ approach of careful diplomacy.
“We feel certain that the six families would prefer a more robust political response.
“We call upon Hague and Cameron to ‘up the ante’ far more vociferously – or are they secretly rubbing their hands with glee that the Russians have done what many of them would have liked to have done? Perhaps with the Winter Olympics approaching, this could be the perfect political bargaining chip.”
(from a press release)