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a Russian training ship unwanted in European ports, despite its captain’s anti-Putin attitude

Imagine a captain whose father is Ukrainian and whose ship is not welcome in Russia. He has long denounced Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial excesses. Several crew members even went to Ukraine to deliver humanitarian aid. Understand that it is difficult to refuse entry to the port of Sète on board. “It is certain that we have the impression that we are victims of collective punishment”responds Cédric Cellier, a member of the crew.

The Shtandart, a replica of the famous 18th-century Russian frigate, the flagship of Tsar Peter the Great, was due to participate in the celebratory event “Escale à Sète”, a large nautical gathering scheduled from April 11 to 18, 2022. But its participation is forbidden. The old rig flies the Russian flag, but it is an administrative obligation, because its home port is Saint Petersburg. It is now docked at Port-de-Bouc, (Bouches-du-Rhône). “Anyone who visits the ship and is asked the question knows the difference between the flag of a training ship, which is a replica of a Russian frigate, and a Russian rocket launcher”notes Cédric Cellier.

Since Wednesday 6 April where the decision was made, negotiations are underway with the prefecture of Hérault, which pose a risk of disturbance of public order. For now, nothing moves. However, the stakes are high, according to Wolfgang Idiri, the director of the Escale festival in Sète. “If we manage to set a precedent in Sète by welcoming this boat safely to port, that would already be an outstretched handhe hopes. Because if this boat is not welcomed in Sète, it means that there is little chance that other ports will do the opposite, and therefore it means that it is persona non grata everywhere in the world. †

“It’s still incredible when this boat is a friendly ship that has been delighting all maritime festivals in Europe for ten years. We still live in a crazy world.”

Wolfgang Idiri, director of the Escale festival in Sète

at franceinfo

In La Rochelle, where the Shtandart will participate in the Boating Festival in two months, we are waiting for instructions from the authorities. However, Patrice Bernier, the captain of the marina who knows the boat well, remembers the urgency of the situation. “This boat lives mainly for festivalshe explains. After two years of Covid his fund is empty, he will struggle to pay the crew on board. In addition, the captain of the marina warns: “He’s out of fuel. He has to sail and if there’s no wind, he won’t move. He’s one of those who just needs humanitarian aid on board. His own boat.”

Thanks to a market group, the ship was able to stock up on fresh water for free, the Porc-de-Bouc tourist office said Friday.

A decidedly paradoxical situation for the Shtandart, who sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The boat has to leave Port-de-Bouc tomorrow. He doesn’t know where he’s going next week.

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