Russia to cough up millions in Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise dispute

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Russia violated international law when boarding the Dutch Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in 2013 and arresting the 30 crew members on board, and will have to pay compensation to the Netherlands. A compensation claim of 7 million euros plus interest has been filed. 

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague made this ruling on Monday, AD reports. Russia announced on Tuesday that the country does not recognize the authority of the court and will not honor the judgement. According to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ruling "encourages non-peaceful protests at sea".

Greenpeace lawyer Daniel Simons told the newspaper that the Netherlands has filed a claim on behalf of Greenpeace of more than 7 million euros plus interest.

The Arctic Sunrise made world news when it was boarded in September 2013 after a protest on the Barents Sea at a drilling platform of the Russian state oil company Gazprom. The 30 crew members of the ship were arrested, including Dutch activists Faiza Oulahsen and Mannes Ubels. The demonstrators were charged with piracy, but the charges were eventually dropped. The ship was not released until several months later.

The court ruled that the Greenpeace protest fell under the principle freedom of the seas, according to AD. The court found no evidence of piracy, because the protesters were trying to enter an oil rig and not the ship. The court also rejected the claim that the ship was boarded for an arrest on charges of "hooliganism", as the protesters were not arrested in the act and had all left the oil rig and returned to the ship. There was also no sign of "terrorism" as Russia had claimed. The court therefore concluded that Russia has to pay the Netherlands compensation for, among other things, damage to the Arctic Sunrise and the illegal arrest of the activists.

Greenpeace is overjoyed by the ruling. "This is very good news. We have known for a long time that the boarding and arrests were illegal. This is further confirmation." a Greenpeace campaigner said to the AD.

The whole affair surrounding the Arctic Sunrise can be read here.

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