« Shtandart », the Russian ship that breaks European sanctions with the support of the authorities of La Rochelle, France

« Shtandart », the Russian ship that breaks European sanctions with the support of the authorities of La Rochelle, France

Short URL: https://bit.ly/shtandart-la-rochelle-demonstration-en

On Sunday, December 11, 2022, following an invitation of the « Ukraine Atlantique » Association, around a hundred Ukrainians and French supporters of Ukraine came from Rennes, Saint-Malo, Caen, Paris, Nantes, Saintes, Bordeaux and various other cities to back their counterparts in La Rochelle. On several occasions, they encouraged the mayor of La Rochelle, Jean-François Fountaine, and the prefect of Charente-Maritime, Nicolas Basselier, to take note of the fifth part of the sanctions voted unanimously, by the States members of the European Union, on April 8, 2022. According to the activists, this text prohibits Russian ships from entering EU ports.

Rally on Quai d’Honneur (Honour Pier)

Last July (2022), Spain aligned itself with the towns of Lorient, Bordeaux and Sète as well all European nations by canceling the attendance of the Russian frigate Shtandart to the « Ruta Iacobus Maris » event and by closing its ports to it. From now on, only a few French maritime cities do not comply with the sanctions. La Rochelle, for its part, became the base port of the Shtandart. Ukrainian and French activists denounce an « illegal occupation ».

Shtandart boarding tourists for a day trip, La Rochelle, credit Jacques Appercé
Shtandart boarding tourists for a day trip, La Rochelle, credit Jacques Appercé
Shtandart schedule
Schedule of the Russian frigate « Shtandart ».

The « Russian state » and the « oligarchs »

To defend the La Rochelle accommodation of the Russian ship, the mayor of this city and the « préfet » (highest representative of French State in Charente-Maritime county) assert, according to the regional newspaper « Sud Ouest » (Fr) of December 10 and December 11, 2022, that sanctions only concern « certain categories of vessels », or even only the « oligarch vessels » or those of « Russian state ». According to the demonstrators, these assertions are inaccurate. They quoted, to evidence their position, the text of the fifth round of sanctions, where they say they are reading that all Russian ships are prohibited in European ports.

EU fith round of sanctions against Russia
Fith round of sanctions for its maritime part, presented numerous times during the protest.

The « Shtandart’s fairy tale »

During public speeches, Oleksandr Goron, president of the « Ukraine Atlantique » Association, and Bernard Grua, spokesperson of the committee « No Shtandart In Europe », also contradicted the elements of what they called a « fairy tale », which would be intended for, according to them, deceiving French public opinion. According to them, the Shtandart vessel is a private Russian yacht owned, for 60%, by Vladimir Martus, its captain, via a screen company, called “Shtandart Project”. They pretended that Shtandart and its captain have “close ties with Russian power”. By way of example, they referred to a diplomatic mission held by Shtandart, in October 2021 (Ru), under the high patronage of Vladimir Putin. It was the celebration of the 250th anniversary of the naval victory of Çeşme in the Aegean Sea. The event took place in the presence of the Greek authorities and of the Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Russia to Greece.

As a result, activists have disputed that Vladimir Martus is « a long-time political opponent of Putin’s regime ». They also questioned the fact that Vladimir Martus claims “not to have been able to see his country again for many years ». In this sense, they pointed out that the owner of Shtandart returned to his home in Saint Petersburg (Ru) from the beginning of January 2022 to mid-February 2022. Eventually, the qualification of « training ship », which the authorities of La Rochelle attribute to Shtandart, in a very questionable way according to “Ukraine Atlantique” and “No Shtandart In Europe”, does not change anything, for them. They argue that there is no exception to the fifth round of sanctions for training ships. They added there are also no exceptions for the claims being part of what they call « the Shtandart’s fairy tale”, even if some were proven right.

Parade between Quai d’Honneur and Town Hall

« The friend of the Ukrainians » sailed off.

On December 11, 2022, the Russian frigate Shtandart did not stay at the « Quai d’Honneur » (honour pier), where it is usually moored. We may or may not be surprised to know that a boat and a captain claiming to be pro-Ukraine decided to temporarily set sail in order to avoid encountering a group composed mainly of Ukrainian women and children with strollers. From the Quai d’Honneur, the parade headed along the docks of the Old Port before walking through the narrow streets of the center towards the Town Hall. There, after an address to Mayor Jean-François Fountaine asking him, once again, to read the 5th part of the sanctions and urging him to implement it, the demonstration dispersed peacefully.

Protestors in front of La Rochelle Town Hall

Before heading back home, those who attended the event were able to enjoy, for a few moments, the sumptuous scenery of the historic city, where a sublime light was reflected on the basins and on the white limestone facades, under a sky of a brilliant azure blue.After a great day of socializing, these people said they are determined to take new actions, in La Rochelle or elsewhere, such as or Vannes, for the « Semaine du Golfe » (Fr) (Week of the Gulf of Morbihan), or Rouen, for the « Armada » tall ship meeting (Fr).

Shtandart: The "Week of the Gulf of Morbihan" and the "Armada" of Rouen are already in minds
The « Week of the Gulf of Morbihan » and the « Armada » of Rouen are already in minds

Photo credits: Jacques Appercé, Floriant Chauvineau and Raphaël Gaudin
Facebook page of Ukraine-Atlantique Association.
Facebook group of No Shtandart In Europe committee.
Instagram: @noshtandartineurope
Hashtag: #NoShtandartInEurope

Creative Commons License
«  »Shtandart », the Russian ship that breaks European sanctions with the support of the authorities of La Rochelle, France » by No Shtandart In Europe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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Publié par Bernard Grua

Graduated from Paris "Institut d'Etudes Politiques", financial auditor, photographer, founder and spokesperson of the worldwide movement which opposed to the delivery of Mitral invasion vessels to Putin's Russia, contributor to French and foreign media for culture, heritage and geopolitics.

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