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Russia: Argentine Greenpeace Activists Released on Bail

By | [email protected] | November 24, 2013 4:09pm

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News broke last week that the Russian authorities had granted bail to Hernán Pérez Orsi and Camila Speziale, the two Argentines arrested along with 28 other Greenpeace activists two months ago while staging a protest at a Gazprom oil platform in the Arctic Sea.

By Friday, both Pérez Orsi and Speziale had both been released and Greenpeace Argentina was live-tweeting it:

 

So yes. The fact that almost all of the activists were granted bail and were allowed to leave the detention center in Saint Petersburg is cause for celebration. But the investigation continues and the charges of hooliganism remain.

The conditions under which the bail release was granted are still unclear, and even though they are not allowed to leave Russia, at least the activists will be able to await their trial outside a prison cell.

The global repercussions of this case are exquisite. The raid on the Arctic Sunrise has created a scenario in which the work is cut out for politicians from all over the world to try and score some political points with this. In Argentina, after a long silence and a “political” hiatus from the local government, Greenpeace released a statement thanking the administration for their “active participation” and their help in speeding up the process to release both activists.

Signs of political support to the cause have come from all over the world in the most varied ways, yet always respecting the main rule of proselytism: what matters is creating as many headlines as possible. Eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates wrote a letter to Russian President Putin offering their support to the activists, and governments from all over the world contacted him through their Foreign Affairs offices to demand that the charges in the case are consistent with international and Russian law. The Netherlands even lodged a lawsuit against Russia at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), seeking the release of the Greenpeace ship and all its passengers, since the Arctic Sea was flying a Dutch flag when captured.

But Putin didn’t care about all this (you know how he is.) He just said that, even though he believed that the activists “were obviously not pirates,” he was not going to interfere with the Russian justice system and that he wouldn’t accept the meddling of international courts.

The story is far from over and the judiciary process in Saint Petersburg will be long, and if found guilty, the activists could be facing up to seven years in prision. Pérez Orsi told the press today that the investigation could extend for up to a year and a half.

So despite the Russian government’s reticence to work with other countries as the investigation progresses, here’s why Argentina should still try to get involved in this:

 

(DO NOT) DRILL, BABY, DRILL

When it comes to protecting the environment vs. fucking up the environment, Argentina has inclined for the latter with little to no remorse. Just like it was reported on The Friday Roundup, Argentina might have allegedly handed over its derrière for dinner to the oil companies.

From a business-oriented standpoint, having a more proactive role in this case could lead Gazprom or any other oil company for that matter, to believe that Argentina  poses yet another variable of instability when it comes to doing business with them.

However, Argentina already has plenty of reasons for companies not to knock on their door begging to make a business deal. So standing up for the protection of its own citizens won’t affect its chances any more than an unstable economy would, but rather it would make the country look more determined and in line with international law.

 

WE REAP WHAT WE SAW

 

Political opportunism is EVERYTHING. And the results of getting involved in this case cannot be stressed enough. It’s like seeing a politician hold a baby in the middle of their campaign. 

Chances are that the activists will not end up spending a gazillion years in a Russian prison anyway, as evidenced by how the pressure coming from the international community managed to convince the judges leading the investigation. The original accusations of piracy were also reviewed and changed to hooliganism. So more pressure could lead to even more progress.

If cleared and allowed to leave Russia, the Argentine activists will come back home as national heroes and whoever stood by them and worked hard to bring them home will surely reap the political benefits of their laudable efforts. 

No amount of media hoopla can disguise the despicable way in which the Russian authorities have handled this situation: From the way in which they illegally boarded the Greenpeace ship to capture the activists, to the ridiculous accusations of piracy against them.

President Putin may say he won’t get involved in the controversy, but be sure when I say that many governments around the world will definitely will. The benefits are just too good to be ignored.