Newport Greenpeace activist Anthony Perrett speaks out after arriving home in Newport
A NEWPORT man locked up in the Russian prison system after a protest at an Arctic oil rig said he feared for his life when the country’s coastguard opened fire.
Eco-activist Anthony Perrett, 33, is back in Newport after Russia lifted piracy and hooliganism charges against him and his 29 crew mates from Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise ship.
Mr Perrett was part of the so-called Arctic 30, a group of activists and journalists detained by Russian authorities after an attempt in September to hang a banner on a Gazprom oil platform.
Mr Perrett said Russian coastguard reacted by firing flares, small arms and even the ship’s cannon.
Asked if he feared for his life, Mr Perrett said: “Yeah – when there’s fairly low-level coastguard chaps discharging their weapons simply because they didn’t know what else to do.”
The crew were taken to Murmansk, where he was imprisoned in a six-by-four metre cell with a man accused of assault and another of “general gangster-like behaviour”. “I got on with them really well. You certainly wouldn’t want to meet them down a dark alley.”
Only knowing odd Russian words and phrases, he couldn’t communicate well and spent his time reading. books by Terry Pratchett and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Mr Perrett eventually won bail, something he says never happens for ordinary Russians: “They didn’t even know what forms to fill out. It’s chaos everywhere. They invented new bureaucracy just for this case.”
But he said he wasn’t thankful for the amnesty law that saw charges against the Arctic 30 lifted, saying he should have had a full acquittal in a court.
“I don’t feel any remorse for anything that I did.”
The activist said it was fantastic to be back in Newport, and he was “incredibly grateful” to his partner Zaharah Ally “and all the help she has mustered,” saying Newport MPs Paul Flynn and Jessica Morden had been her “stalwarts”.
“The risk of catastrophic climate change is certain. We know that’s going to happen if we don’t act soon. Why isn’t everybody doing this? Not to that extent, but certainly endeavouring to reduce carbon emissions.”
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