Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Can Nobel prize winners ignore Russian laws?

Eleven Nobel Prize winners wrote a letter to the President of Russia in support of Greenpeace activists detained on the ship Arctic Sunrise. The message is filled with some irrational belief in the power of Vladimir Putin. Perhaps this impression is deceptive. But the letter is composed so as to reduce these doubts to a minimum.   

"We are writing to ask you to do all you can to ensure that the excessive charges of piracy ... are dropped and that any charges brought are consistent with international and Russian law," the Nobel laureates said in their open letter to Putin.

A spokesman for the Russian President Dmitry Peskov commenting on the message noted that with all due respect to the people who signed it, they have chosen a wrong recipient. All issues about the charges brought against the activists are the responsibility of the investigating authorities and the courts.  

The letter is not limited only to the request to immediately intervene in the case of the activists. It also talks about the dangers of oil production in the Arctic. "An oil spill under these icy waters would have a catastrophic impact on one of the most pristine, unique and beautiful landscapes on Earth. The impact of a spill on communities living in the Arctic, and on already vulnerable animal species, would be devastating and long lasting. The risks of such an accident are ever present, and the oil industry's response plans remain wholly inadequate. Equally important is the contribution of Arctic oil drilling to climate change. Climate change in the Arctic and elsewhere threatens all of us, but it is the world's most vulnerable who are paying the price for developed countries' failure to act."  

Among the signatories of the letter is South African Bishop Tutu Dsemond, women's rights activists Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Yemeni peace campaigner Tawakkol Karman (associated with "Arab Spring"), a former judge Shirin Ebadi (Iran), pacifist from Northern Ireland Mairead Corrigan - Maguire (a participant of the scandal with the "Freedom Flotilla"), a former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sánchez, Former President of East Timor Jose Ramos Horta, and others.

All of them are recognized experts on oil production in the Arctic regions and climate change.

Of course, the only purpose of this letter is the headlines like "Eleven Nobel Prize laureates appealed to Vladimir Putin." Speaking of its content, the requests for the personal intervention of the President in the case of Greenpeace activists looks at the very least disrespectful towards Russia.

"I suppose the eleven Nobel Prize winners have no idea about the Russian legislation. They simply do not know whether the arrest and courts were in compliance with the Russian law, although they are Nobel Prize winners. The letter was written by one person from Greenpeace or a support group, it does not matter. This is the Nobel laureates' work to support all humane against inhuman," editor-in-chief of Political Class magazine Vitaly Tretyakov told

He believes that their views should not be ignored. However, the neglect of the Russian justice should not be ignored either.

"There can be any number of letters. Letters from simple workers, in principle, are no less important than letters from Nobel Prize winners. But workers' letters are generally ignored, while the letters of Nobel laureates are not. There is court. It can be good or bad, but in each country a court is a court. Perhaps for the Nobel laureates the Russian court is an empty phrase. For us it is no worse than a British or some other court," concluded Vitaly Tretyakov.

Anton Ponomarev


Read the original in Russian