Families of Canadian activists jailed in Russia want government intervention

OTTAWA – The families of two Greenpeace activists jailed for six weeks in Russia following a protest at a drilling rig in the high Arctic say it is time for the Harper government to exert some political pressure.

Paul Ruzycki, of Port Colborne, Ont., and Montrealer Alexandre Paul were among 30 activists detained Sept. 18 when Russian paramilitaries stormed their ship in international waters.

The pair initially faced charges of piracy which have since been reduced to hooliganism — but they still face possible sentences of up to seven years in prison.

Ruzycki’s sister Patti Stirling says she was “incredibly buoyed” when Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird helped secure the release of a Canadian doctor and filmmaker detained in Egypt, but she has seen no such political effort on behalf of the activists.

Paul’s mother Nicole gave a tearful recital of the brutal conditions her son is facing in jail in Murmansk.

Stirling says her brother, an experienced activist, has never faced such arbitrary treatment and attributes what she calls Russia’s “1913 response” to the involvement of the petroleum industry.

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