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Andrei Allakhverdov - One of the Arctic 30

posted 5 Oct 2013, 07:46 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 5 Oct 2013, 07:50 ]
3 October 2013

By Friends of Andrei Allakhverdov

At this moment, our Russian friend and radio colleague Andrei Allakhverdov is in a jail cell in Murmansk, a city in the far north of Russia. He is there along with 29 others from countries in the CIS, Europe, North America, Australia and Latin America for their participation in a Greenpeace campaign against offshore oil drilling in the Arctic. As a result of a non-violent protest against Gazprom, a Russian gas company that ranks among the world's largest, their ship was overrun by Russian special forces in international waters. All are now in prison and have been formally charged with 'piracy', a crime that brings the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence in Russia.

Greenpeace is seeking to raise awareness of the collective plight of those in the so-called 'Arctic 30'. This is both understandable and admirable. But while we hope to learn about each of these individuals in time, this letter seeks to tell you about one person we know well -- Andrei Allakhverdov.

Andrei would be the first to say he's no better than most. But if your interests are in radio, media, or the sciences, Andrey is one of those people you've either met, or, should to get to know. As a radio producer with Radio Rossiya in the early 1990's, he produced a national program series about the challenges facing Russia's environment -- receiving prizes and recognition along the way. A skilled linguist dating back to his days as a translator in the Soviet army, Andrey embraced opportunities to promote cultural exchange in every way imaginable. He presented at international media and radio
conferences such as the Prix Europa, the International Features Conference (IFC), and the Third Coast International Audio Festival. He authored, co-authored, or translated articles and programs for the journal Science, the BBC, and other outlets. He hosted countless visiting foreign journalists and friends to Russia over the years. Most of all, he constantly clued the rest of us into what the story - or joke or idea - was all about.

For context has always been important to Andrei. As the editor-in-chief at the Foundation for Independent Radio Broadcasting (FNR) for more than a decade, he mentored hundreds upon hundreds of Russian journalists about the meaning of words. He lectured on journalistic ethics. He berated over grammatical mistakes. He worried over stories that were often not his own. He took late night phone calls. He counseled interns and students. He translated scripts and interviews. He showed us how wide, creative, and diverse the radio medium can be.

His affiliation with Greenpeace was not accidental. As a journalist covering the environment, he’d come to view Greenpeace’s work as essential -- eventually taking a job with them as a press officer earlier this year. Ever the ethicist, Andrei would insist he left the journalism profession under difficult circumstances. And he would be right. Yet to those who know him, Andrei's new position with Greenpeace made perfect sense. Just as he once did over the airwaves, Andrei was there to tell us stories. About the environment and why it matters.

Today, a Russian court formally charged Andrei and 15 others involved in the Greenpeace Arctic campaign against Gazprom held for two months
pending an investigation on charges of piracy. We feel these charges unjust and their detention unwarranted. While Russian courts are not
known for their independence, public awareness of the plight of ‘the Arctic 30’ can impact the outcome of their case. 

Please join us in supporting efforts to gain their release. We ask that you share this statement and sign this petition. (LINK:

In addition, we are encouraging journalists to consider giving wider attention to the events unfolding in Murmansk. Those wishing to hear
more about Andrei’s story should feel free to contact individuals listed below.

Thank you for your support.

- Friends and Colleagues of Andrei Allakhverdov
Veronika Dmitriyeva +7 985 763 4631
Charles Maynes +7 926 606 2192
Lena Uporova +7 925 139 9581