Family of Canadian Greenpeace activist charged in Russia speaks out

Above: Two Canadians are among a group who could be facing up to 15 years in a Russian prison. Supporters are hoping the Canadian government will step in to help. Stuart Greer reports.

TORONTO / OTTAWA– The father of a Canadian Greenpeace activist charged with piracy is calling his son’s detainment in Russia “ridiculous.”

“No guns, no weapons on the ship – the worst they had was a kitchen knife,” said Raymond Paul, whose son, Alexandre, is a crewmember of the Arctic Sunrise ship.

“He was handcuffed, and put in a cage – treated like a criminal,” he told Global News on Friday afternoon.

Paul said he’s had no contact with his only son, and that his wife isn’t doing well. They continue to “pray for good news.”

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The young Montreal man and Paul Ruzycki of Port Colborne, Ont., were among 30 activists charged by Russia after the environmental group protested at an oil platform in the Arctic Sea.

The charge can result in a 15-year prison term upon conviction.

Greenpeace denies any wrongdoing and describes the charges as absurd. The organization has planned vigils “for the immediate release of detainees” in Montreal and Toronto on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Ruzycki’s mother says the charges make no sense.

“I think we can agree that piracy involves weapons and taking control of another vessel. Greenpeace did nothing like that,” Nicole Paul told The Canadian Press in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs Department spokesperson Béatrice Fénelon said Friday the government is aware of the situation involving two Canadians in Murmansk and that consular services were being provided “as required.” Fénelon said no other details could be shared due to the Privacy Act.

Editor’s note: Raymond Paul’s quotations have been translated from French to English.

With files from Bryan Mullan and The Canadian Press

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