I am no fan of Greenpeace. Whilst I might agree with a few of their objectives, I have absolutely no sympathy for the methods that they employ, which are largely to gain self publicity.
My main objection to them is that they believe that they are above the law and should be free to interfere with anyone going about their legal business should they decree that the business might harm the environment.
Within the UK the law has generally been over-lenient towards their protesters, crimes such as climbing onto the roof of a minister's home to display banners, climbing towers at a power station or most recently opposing fracking have been treated by our judges with little more than a rap on the knuckles.
However the Russians don't take this kindly view. They view attempts to board one of their oil drilling rigs as being piracy. Apparently under international law, a mobile drilling rig is regarded as a ship, and boarding or attempting to board a ship against the operator's wishes is piracy. Having apparently taken a lenient view on a previous occasion, this time the Russians have decided enough is enough and arrested the ship and charged the members of the crew with piracy.
The latest twist to the story is that the Russians claim to have found illegal drugs during a search of the ship, something that Greenpeace vehemently denies claiming the only drugs on board would be medical supplies carried by law.
For once my sympathy is with the Russians. So far they seem to have acted perfectly correctly within international law and are investigating what happened and, having charged various members of the crew with piracy. are now considering other possible charges.
Holland has now become involved as the ship is a Dutch registered vessel and the Russians are now threatening to ban Dutch produce.
This saga will drag on and on and it will need considerable diplomatic effort to secure the release of the vessel and crew. One wonders how much effort will be made by the countries involved; this is the worse time of the year to have a confrontation with Russia who could easily cut off Europe's gas supplies just to show who is the boss. A winter in a cold cell in Murmansk might show these Greenpeace members that the law is the law and that they can't expect lenient British treatment from the Russians.
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