Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Who will pay for "Oleg Naydenov"?

Senegal is artificially delaying the release of a Russian trawler "Oleg Naydenov." The scheduled meeting of Russian diplomats and representative of the Federal Fishery Agency with the President of Senegal has not taken place. Household and medical issues of the arrested vessel are not being solved. No formal charges have been filed. Who will pay the bills?

Russia's Federal Fishery Agency continues to insist that the vessel was detained illegally in the waters of neighboring Guinea-Bissau that issued "Naydenov" a fishing license. The officials believe that the negotiations might have failed because of the actions of Greenpeace. "Currently the "green lobby" in Senegal is very active and systematic," the Federal Fishery Agency told Interfax. They added that Senegal Minister of Fishery was the leader of the "green." Meanwhile, a coordinator of the Agency for monitoring fishing activities of Guinea-Bissau told Portuguese news agency Lusa that based on the data provided by the Senegalese authorities, the Russian trawler was fishing in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Senegal, therefore the arrest was legal.

"On December 23the vessel was found fishing in the territorial waters of Senegal and in the course of the prosecution it was arrested in the shared fishing zone (of Senegal and Guinea-Bissau) on January 3," said the official. According to him, both countries have the right to issue fishing licenses in the common area, but it does not give the holder the right to fish in the EEZ of the other country. The official also explained that the two observers from Guinea-Bissau whose job it is to ensure that the trawler does not enter another zone were on board "Oleg Naydenov."  

A natural question is why the observers did not fulfill their obligations if we assume that "Naydenov" was caught in the EEZ of Senegal? The coordinator of the monitoring of fishing activities of Guinea-Bissau said that the department has received and was considering a protest note from the captain of the vessel that stated that the crew (60 Russians and 20 Guineans) became the target of violence by Senegal.

"At the moment of detention, according to the Center for Satellite Positioning System of Monitoring and Communication, the vessel "Oleg Naydenov" was in the EEZ of Guinea-Bissau," Sergey Gorbachev, deputy head of the public relations of the Federal Fisheries Agency assured Pravda.Ru. The official said that he did not have the position data of the trawler the representative of Guinea-Bissau was talking about. "Perhaps, if such data existed, it would have been provided to Russia in the first place," said the official. "As of today no official complaints have been received from the Senegalese side. We will continue to work with the Russian Foreign Ministry, and with the assistance of the Federal Fisheries Agency the ship owner accompanied by an experienced lawyer will submit claims against Senegal authorities. These claims, after systematization of the data, will contain material damage caused by the illegal actions of Senegal against Russian fishermen."

It is obvious that the case turned to a somewhat unexpected for the provocateurs plane. "It is understandable that Greenpeace is behind all this. But Greenpeace is not an independent organization but a tool of special services," Vasily Filipov, doctor of historical sciences, senior researcher at the Center for the study of African tropics of the Institute for African Studies commented on the situation for Pravda.Ru. "Greenpeace is an "ephemeral" organization used at the right time and right place. The Minister of Fisheries of Senegal also involved in this case somehow has the right to give orders to sailors to arrest a vessel. It's ironic and it is clear that the Senegalese authorities are not acting independently in this case," said the expert. He believes that the President of Senegal did not want to talk with Russian diplomats because he was waiting for a go-ahead from Western intelligence agencies and Russia's reaction.

He suggested that the action was agreed between Paris and Washington. France provided Naydenov tracking and "has been very aggressive in Africa in recent years, invading Mali and the Central African Republic."

"What needs to be done? Someone in the Duma joked that we should send a destroyer with a friendly visit and flash out flag near the shore. I think this would be most reasonable approach. Such incidents cannot be avoided in the future because the fight for resources off the coast of Africa will only get more intense. Re-division of Africa is ongoing, and we, unfortunately, have left it in the 1990s," Vasily Filipov told Pravda.Ru.

Lyuba Lyul'ko