LISA RIND/Bullet News
PORT COLBORNE – A rally to support a Port Colborne man who is currently detained in a Russian prison will be held today at Lock 8 Gateway Park from noon to 12:30 p.m.
The rally takes place rain or shine.
Paul Ruzycki, chief mate of Greenpeace’s ice-breaker vessel Arctic Sunrise, is part of the “Arctic 30” who have been detained by Russians and charged with piracy.
The Arctic Sunrise activists approached Russian state-controlled energy company Gazprom’s oil-drilling platform Sept. 18 in the Barents Sea and mounted what Greenpeace calls a “peaceful” protest against drilling for oil in the Arctic.
One day following the protest, the Arctic Sunrise was boarded and seized by Russian coast guard, and the ship was taken under tow to Murmansk, a journey of three days.
The crew was detained in Murmansk, and the Russian government began laying piracy charges Wednesday. Ruzycki and the other Canadian on board, Alexandre Paul from Montreal, were formally charged Thursday.
Ruzycki’s family has not heard from him since Sept. 18. Russian authorities stated Thursday the crew could still be detained until Nov. 24.
Thursday, Greenpeace said it has mounted a legal appeal against the charges. A conviction of piracy could bring a maximum prison sentence of 15 years.
“Although we are in constant contact with Greenpeace Int’l, we are all dismayed by the lack of local support at all levels of government,” said Ruzycki’s sister, Patti Stirling earlier this week in a statement to media. “Malcolm Allen is the only representative who has responded to requests. The Conservatives have been flippant or completely tight-lipped. We have had no response from the Liberals. We have faced disinterest and inaction,” she said.
Thursday, Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs issued this statement:
“We are aware of the situation involving two Canadian citizens in Murmansk, Russia. Consular services are being provided to the two Canadian citizens as required. Due to the Privacy Act, we are not able to share any more information on this matter,” said spokesman John Babcock.
Thursday, Greenpeace asked for nations around the world to join them in marking a day of solidarity, to support the Arctic 30 and protest oil drilling in the Arctic.
Ruzycki’s family, including his brother, Frank, sister Patti and Frank’s wife Leslie, invite all supporters to Greenpeace’s Global Day of Support Saturday, Oct. 5, at noon at Lock 8 Gateway Park’s pavilion.
Lock 8 Park is located at 133 Mellanby Ave. in Port Colborne. Free parking is available in lots off Mellanby Avenue and Main Street.
Earlier Friday, the Dutch government announced it would initiate arbitration proceedings against Russia under the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea to secure the release of the 28 Greenpeace International activists, plus a freelance photographer and a freelance videographer, currently being detained in Russia on piracy charges.
“Our ship was illegally detained in international waters following a peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling and we hope that other states, especially the countries whose nationals are among the detained, will support the Netherlands in this commendable initiative,” said Greenpeace International general counsel Jasper Teulings.
“The Netherlands is taking a strong stance in support of the rule of law and the right to peacefully protest. Russian officials will now be called to explain their actions before an international court of law, where it will be unable to justify these absurd piracy allegations,” he said.
The upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, planned for Feb. 7-23, are providing a potential focus for protest, said Stirling.
“How can the world showcase a nation that treats a peaceful protest with such brutal force?” she asked.
“Please ask the Prime Minister to intervene and free the Arctic 30.”
With files from Heidi Grzesina, News in Port Colborne and Wainfleet.
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