Elizabeth May, MP for Saanich – Gulf Islands and Leader of the Green Party of Canada has called on Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird to push for the release of two Canadian citizens currently imprisoned in Murmanski, Russia over a peaceful protest at an offshore oil platform in September.
Paul Douglas Ruzycki of Port Colbourne, Ontario and Alexandre Paul of Montreal are among the thirty crewmembers of the Arctic Sunrise, a Greenpeace ship operating in the Arctic Ocean in protest of the unsafe and environmentally destructive offshore drilling practices of Gazprom, the Russian state-owned oil and gas extractor. The activists have now been detained for almost two months, and could be facing prison terms of up to seven years on charges of hooliganism.
In a letter to Minister Baird released yesterday, May declared that “It appears as though the Russian leadership is determined to make an international political statement through the continued imprisonment and wildly disproportionate charges that these thirty individuals continue to face.”
Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform, the target of the Greenpeace protest, is the first offshore oil development in the Arctic Ocean. Many experts agree that a spill at the platform would have catastrophic consequences for the extremely fragile Arctic ecosystem, and would affect thousands of kilometers of coastline.