Support of science journalist

 

Andrey Allahverdov

When I heard about imprisoned Greenpeace activists who tried to protest against a powerful Russian gas company in the Arctic I took it as one of numerous political events were happening around us. It was a big shock when I realized that along with 29 others from Arctic Sunrise who were arrested and stayed in a prison of Murmansk to very North of Russia was Andrey Allahverdov, science journalist and a member of our association.

I believe, many of our colleagues from abroad, especially radio folks remember Andrey – intelligent and very devoted to his profession science journalist. He was very happy when we joined EUSJA, actually it was him who translated our Constitution to English. He participated EUSJA events not once and from every trip he tried to present his audience interesting stories, his broadcasting was always honest and informative. Fine journalist and fine friend! He moved to Greenpeace as its press officer a few months ago. He was doing his job of science journalist when he was arrested. He followed his duties to be a journalist. But he was blamed in “piracy”.
Yesterday it was a trial in a court. Andrey’s friends hoped that he would be set free from a prison because it was an absurd to blame a journalist who did his job. There were many letters sent to the court of Murmansk. Me too wrote a letter of defense of a member of our association. There was a slender hope that Andrey would get free. But the court left him in prison.

Journalist cannot be judged for his profession! I ask you for your support, friends! Andrey is not a pirate! He is science journalist. Please rise a voice in defense of your colleague. See below a statement has been drafted in support of Andrey Allahverdov by his friends.

Andrey Allahverdov1

Free Radio Journalist Andrey Allakhverdov and the Arctic 30 At this moment, our Russian friend and radio colleague Andrey 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 — Andrey Allakhverdov.

Andrey 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, 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 clued the rest of us into what the story – or joke or idea – was all about. For context has always been important to Andrey. 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, Andrey would insist he left the journalism profession under difficult circumstances. And he would be right. Yet to those who know him, Andrey’s new position with Greenpeace made perfect sense. Just as he once did over the airwaves, Andrey was there to tell us stories. About the environment and why it matters. This week, a Russian court formally charged Andrey and all others involved in the case with piracy and held pending trial. We feel these charges unjust and their continued 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: http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/arctic-impacts/free-our-activists/) In addition, we are encouraging journalists to consider giving wider attention to the events unfolding in Murmansk. Those wishing to hear more about Andrey’s story should feel free to contact individuals listed below. Thank you for your support. Friends and Colleagues of Andrey Allakhverdov Veronica Dmitriyeva veronica.dmitriyeva@gmail.com +7 985 763 4631 Charles Maynes charlesmaynes@gmail.com +7 926 606 2192 Lena Uporova lenauporova@gmail.com +7 925 139 9581

About Viola Egikova

Viola Egikova - science journalist based in Moscow, president of Intellect, Vice-President of the European Union of Science Journalists' Associations, Programme Coordinator of All Russia Science Festival