Russian ship denied entry to maritime festival in France

Russian ship denied entry to maritime festival in France

Ukrainians in Brittany (a region in northwestern France), in collaboration with French activists, have achieved the prohibition of the Russian sailing ship Shtandart (a replica of the frigate of Tsar Peter the Great) from participating in the Brest Maritime Festival.

Svitlana Jestin, president of the Iroise-Ukraine Association, said this in an exclusive commentary to an Ukrinform correspondent.

“We managed to meet with Fortuné Pellicano, deputy mayor and president of the Brest Maritime Festival. He said that the ship Shtandart, which is subject to EU sanctions, including historical replicas of ships, will not be permitted to dock in Brest for the duration of the festival. That is, the ship will not be accepted and will not be permitted to take part in the maritime festival,” she said.

As noted, the day before, the Iroise-Ukraine Association and the initiative group "No Shtandart in Europe" held another rally on Freedom Square in Brest to make sure that the local authorities would implement the decision of the Prefecture of Finistère to ban the Russian ship Shtandart from entering the port to participate in the major maritime festival as part of European sanctions against Russia.

“It can't enter Brest," confirmed Jestin, who has been organizing protests against the presence of the Russian ship for several years.

According to official documents, the vessel can only come closer and launch a boat to take food and water, she said.

French activist Bernard Grua, who has also been fighting against this Russian ship for many years, came to demand that the authorities comply with EU legislation, including the implementation of the 5th package of sanctions imposed on Russia after the massacres in Bucha.

"There is no final victory yet. But for me, this is a long war. The fact that Brest - the largest maritime festival in France in 2024 - finally canceled its participation just a few days before the start shows that all other festivals will now be scared and will take this decision into account," said Grua.

According to him, under Article 3 of the EU Regulation, after April 16, 2022, it is prohibited to grant access to ports and after July 29, 2022, to locks in the EU to any vessel registered under the Russian flag, except for access to locks for the purpose of leaving the territory of the European Union.

Grua also has evidence of ties between the captain and alleged owner of the Russian vessel, Vladimir Martus, and the Russian presidential administration. In addition, the Russian vessel poses a risk to French national security because it can collect intelligence. "This ship is an ideal platform for electronic eavesdropping. It is 33 meters long. You can put anyone on it, you can deploy an antenna, and it has military or former military personnel on board. That is, it is an extraordinary tool of the Russian regime," he said.

According to local media, until recently, the Shtandart was freely based in another French port, La Rochelle, from which it set sail for Brest to take part in the Brest Maritime Festival, one of the largest maritime events in the world, which will take place from July 12 to 17. A few days ago, this ship was also registered on the festival's website, but now it has been removed from the official page.

The vessel, which was flying the Russian tricolor, changed it to the Cook Islands flag in the spring, and its captain, Vladimir Martus, said he would still try to enter the port of Brest. Martus claims that he has the right to sail freely in French waters, considers the Prefecture’s order illegal and will challenge it in court.

As reported, the European Union has proposed restrictions on 11 vessels that contribute to Russia's ability to wage war against Ukraine in a new package of sanctions.

Photo credit: Ukrainian community

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