After more than two months of detention in Russia, sister of Arctic 30 activist Paul Ruzycki says Russian authorities were “heavy handed.”
JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.
It’s been two months since Greenpeace activists were arrested at gunpoint by Russian authorities. The so-called Arctic 30 were trying to board an oil rig which belongs to one of the world’s largest extractors of natural gas, Gazprom. One of the activists, Canadian Paul Ruzycki, was in court in St. Petersburg today seeking bail.
Now joining us to bring us up to date on the status of his case and his well-being is Patti Ruzycki. She is the sister of the activist Paul Ruzycki.
Thanks for joining us, Patti.
PATTI STIRLING, SISTER OF IMPRISONED GREENPEACE ACTIVIST PAUL RUZYCKI: Thank you for having me today.
DESVARIEUX: So, Patti, what charges is your brother facing? Can you please tell us what happened today in court?
STIRLING: Well, today in court, to the delight of our family and our entire Greenpeace family, Paul’s bail was granted. We were quite worried yesterday when one of the first detainees was denied bail. And that was followed by three of the Russian crew members, who were all granted bail. So this morning, starting at 3 o’clock in the morning, the family was on the computers watching a live feed from Russia as the detainees were brought to the courtroom and one by one, as the charges–or as the bail was requested, the bail was actually granted today.
So the family is feeling quite elated. But we also know that this is just the first step in a very long process. There might be bail, but bail will have conditions on it.
DESVARIEUX: Patti, I mean, some might see this story and say that the Greenpeace activists knew that they were getting themselves into a lot of trouble by trying to board the private property of Gazprom and that they were basically putting themselves in danger. What would you say to those people that see your brother’s case like that?
STIRLING: Well, what I have been saying throughout this whole campaign is without organizations like Greenpeace and individuals like Paul, we have no one to bear witness for the rest of the planet and tell the story of what’s going on, whether it’s the fact that cod are being overfished in the Atlantic and eventually there are none, forests are being clear cut in British Columbia, that the Amazon is being pillaged. It’s people like Greenpeace and people like my brother Paul who go to these dangerous spots, record the story, document it, hang their flags as proof that they’ve been there, and leave.
And the incident in Russia really was no different. Paul and the crew have been there many times. They’ve been well received on many of their trips to Russia. In fact, on Paul’s one trip to Vladivostok, the locals came out, were so thrilled to see Greenpeace in their community that they gave him a motorcycle and said, while you’re docked here for a couple of days, be our guest; go and explore the countryside. We love you. We’re glad that you’re here.
Recently, Russian authorities boarded the Greenpeace vessel to inspect it and came away knowing that there are no weapons ever on these boats.
So people that think they were putting themselves in harm’s way, the might of Russia came down on them this time. And this is something that’s never happened in Paul’s 25 years. He’s been detained in countries all over the planet for actions that he’s taken. Those minor incarcerations usually last 24 hours. They’re slapped with a penalty and they’re told to leave the country. And then they’re often invited back as well. So what happened in Russia really was an over-the-top overreaction to a peaceful protest in international waters.
DESVARIEUX: Some might point to what you label as this overreaction of Russia is it’s really about the battle for Arctic resources, and that’s why we’re seeing so many–seeing Russia really coming down hard on your brother. You know, for example, Canada and the U.S. right now, they’re competing for offshore drilling rights in Beauford Sea, and like you were pointing to, that just Russia has been really heavy-handed on your brother. Why do you think your brother felt so compelled to protest in such an extreme way this particular cause?
STIRLING: Well, it’s not just this cause. Paul’s life for the last 25 years has been surrounded by Greenpeace. He works there. He lives the Greenpeace motto on a day-to-day basis. Paul is an environmental activist. He wants a clean, safe planet for your kids, my kids, our grandchildren. It’s not just a place he’s passing through; it’s a place he’s leaving behind, and he wants to leave it behind in the kind of shape that a future generation is going to be proud of, not disgusted by a spoiled planet with nothing left for the children.
DESVARIEUX: Alright. Patti Ruzycki, thank you so much for joining us.
STIRLING: Thank you so much.
DESVARIEUX: And if you’d like to continue following this story, you can follow us on Twitter @therealnews. And you can follow me as well on Twitter @Jessica_Reports.
Thanks for watching The Real News Network.
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