Lightning: International regatta yachts held hostage by Russian authorities

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Just on Friday, we were cheering for the crews Adventure Race 80 dgwho were churning out an extreme race. But, as always in Russia, the real extreme starts when we encounter Russian laws and practices of their enforcement.

The fleet of 12 yachts has successfully passed the whole route agreed with the authorities, but in the last point of the route - in Murmansk - something happens which can't be easily comprehended.

We are quoting a part of the message from the organizers to our editorial office:

« yachts «Peter I» (Russia), «Anne Margaretha» (Holland), «Barlovento II» (Poland) arrived to Murmansk port, where they became hostages of a strange legal situation regarding foreign vessels in Russian territorial waters.

Indeed in previous years for foreign vessels (including private sailing yachts) to be able to enter Russia a decree of Russian Government was required. With the observance of all rules and regulations through the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation the organizers of the regatta began to prepare this document for 2013. But in June of the current year a new Federal Law № 110 was adopted and came into force. According to this law this decree is not required for holding the event and inviting ships, it is enough to notify the relevant services and departments, which were made.

However, upon arrival in Murmansk, the main organizer of AR80 - 2013 Daniil Gavrilov was accused of misconduct.

He and the foreign vessels that returned to the port after a long and difficult expedition were facing sanctions.

Special mention should be made of the German vessel «Dagmar Aaen» which has been standing on the faraway berth 16 (Coal Harbor) for 10 days already. The ship arrived in Murmansk on July 19 to go to Franz Josef Land. The captain is Arved Fuchs - world-famous traveler and navigator who conquered the North and South Poles. With full permission to visit Russia, preliminary negotiations and support of the National Park «Russian Arctic», Arved Fuchs is not able to take his ship on the planned route. As a lot of time is lost and the sailing season at high latitudes is very short the crew of the German yacht is planning to leave Russia on July 30 if the situation is not solved. Unfortunately consulate of Germany cannot help their compatriots yet, as the calls of diplomats are not answered by the services, by the decision of which the yacht was detained. Now all the interested parties are waiting for an answer to the official letter. It is notable that the captain has not yet received a clear and intelligible explanation on what grounds «Dagmar Aaen» was detained. As Vladimir Melnik, the state inspector of the national park «Russian Arctic» who was supposed to follow in the crew of the German yacht on FJL, put it «Arved Fuchs found himself in the territory with irrational law enforcement. Where the authorities refer to non-existent bylaws» (that was the reference in the new Law № 110).

Now there is the last hope for help from the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation and the support from Moscow, because it was the employees of this department at one time stopped the receipt of the Government's resolution for lack of use in the changed legal situation. And there are the last hopes for common sense of all the parties involved.

The editorial office of itBoat does not know yet the details of what is going on in Murmansk, but in the nearest future we will try to find out what is threatening the participants of the expedition with Russian officials.

Today at the press-conference Daniil Gavrilov, the captain of the yacht «Peter I» and the organizer of the Arctic regatta, emotionally spoke about the situation in Murmansk:

« What international image can we talk about if we have our own laws in every port and far from always they coincide with the federal ones?

I spent 4 years of my life to attract attention to the Arctic, to show foreign travelers and yachtsmen another Russia. To show that bears with balalaikas do not walk along the streets here. We develop tourism, we show people sea which teaches kindness, strength, persistence and faith. And for what purpose? We bring unique people and unique boats, but they stand in a distant dusty coal harbour. Neither townspeople, nor children will be able to look at them, talk to interesting and deserving people.

One can't help thinking about changing the flag of his ship, so as not to be ashamed of the Motherland in which I live.

Now we are trying to save the face of Russia in front of very respected people all over the world who have come a long way to be here».

Now it is difficult to calculate the losses which were incurred by the German yacht and, as it appears, will be incurred by other vessels which have come to Murmansk as part of the regatta. The only thing all crews note is support and help from ordinary citizens of Murmansk and port staff. Someone gives a chance to take a shower, someone helps to bring food. Real sailors don't look at flags and don't leave each other in trouble. On behalf of the organizers of the regatta and the teams we express our gratitude to everyone who didn't pass by.

Update: July 31, boats were released, the situation is more or less normal. Thanks to all!

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