Russia accuses Greenpeace crew of ‘piracy’ in Arctic


Russia accuses Greenpeace crew of ‘piracy’ in Arctic


The BBC’s Daniel Sandford: “This is the first time that Greenpeace have found themselves at the criminal end of the piracy law”

Russian prosecutors have accused 30 Greenpeace activists of piracy and say they will prosecute all of them for trying to board an Arctic oil platform.

Russia’s Investigative Committee, modelled on the FBI, will question the activists. Six Britons are among them.

Their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, is being towed to the port of Murmansk.

Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said “all those who assaulted the platform, regardless of nationality, will be prosecuted”.

The campaigners were detained on Thursday along with their ship after two Greenpeace activists tried to climb onto a Gazprom offshore platform, in a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic.

The ship was raided by armed Russian men in balaclavas who abseiled down from helicopters. The ship was seized in the Pechora Sea, near the rig.

Greenpeace said the Russian authorities “are holding 30 of our activists”.

Legal disputeIn a statement on Tuesday, Greenpeace said its ship had arrived in a fjord near Murmansk accompanied by a tug boat and the Russian Coast Guard vessel Ladoga.

“Greenpeace International lawyers are demanding immediate access to the 30 activists who have been held for over four days without legal or consular assistance. It is still not known whether Russia intends to lay formal charges and Greenpeace has not received any formal contact from the authorities,” it said.

The environmental organisation said its protest against “dangerous Arctic oil drilling” was peaceful and in line with its “strong principles”.

“Our activists did nothing to warrant the reaction we’ve seen from the Russian authorities,” it said.

The campaigners on the ship are from 18 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, New Zealand, Russia, the UK and the US, Greenpeace said.

Mr Markin described the protest as “an attempt to seize a drilling platform by storm” and said it raised “legitimate doubts about their intentions”. The ship “was loaded with electronics whose purpose was not clear”, he said.

“It’s hard to believe that the so-called activists did not know that the platform is an installation with a high hazard level, and any unauthorised actions on it can lead to an accident, which would not only endanger the people aboard it but also the ecology, which is being protected zealously,” he said.


Article 227 of Russia’s penal code defines piracy as “an attack on a ship at sea or on a river, with the aim of seizing someone else’s property, using violence or the threat of violence”. It can be punished with a jail term of up to 15 years, depending on the gravity of the offence, and a fine of up to 500,000 roubles (£10,000; $15,000).

British messagesCommenting on the Arctic campaigners, a Greenpeace spokesman said that “as far as we are aware they are in fairly good spirits and no-one has been ill-treated”.

A British campaigner, Alex Harris, has texted her parents from the ship, saying she is “safe”. “Will call when I can. Individuals have not been charged. Just the ship,” she added in the message.

Earlier Sue Turner, mother of British campaigner Iain Rogers from Exeter in Devon, said: “I’ve been told they are being treated well by the Russians – I am very relieved”.

Anthony Perrett, another British Greenpeace activist on the ship, spoke to his partner Zaharah Ally via a consulate telephone.

Ms Ally, from Newport in south Wales, said he told her that they were not allowed to leave the ship.

“However, they are allowed to move around the ship and conduct their daily lives,” she told the BBC. “Anthony is a very positive person and sounded very well. He did say he would possibly be on the ship for five days.”

Source: BBC News

Russia to charge Greenpeace activists with piracy over oil rig protest

Environmental organisation says it has no news about activists held after boarding Gazprom-owned Arctic oil rig in Pechora Sea

Protest against Gazprom

A Greenpeace protest at Gazprom’s Berlin headquarters demanding the release of activists arrested by Russia last week. Photograph: Ole Spata/DPA/Corbis

Russia has opened a criminal case against Greenpeace activists who boarded an Arctic oil rig belonging to energy giant Gazprom, and says it plans to charge them all with piracy, regardless of their nationality. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in a Russian prison.


The Greenpeace boat Arctic Sunrise was apprehended last Thursday in what the environmental organisation says were international waters, near the Prirazlomnaya rig in the Pechora Sea. Russian coastguards stormed the boat after activists attempted to climb aboard the rig to stop its operations, descending from helicopters on ropes and rounding up the activists with knives and guns.


Greenpeace lost contact with those on board the ship immediately after it was seized. Russian authorities said they were towing the ship back to the Arctic port of Murmansk using a coastguard vessel, as the captain of the Arctic Sunrise refused to carry out orders to turn back the ship. The ship anchored on Tuesday near Mishukovo, just north of Murmansk.


Maria Favorskaya, a Greenpeace representative in Murmansk, said the organisation and its lawyers had been kept in the dark about the charges and havd not received any documentation.


“The activists are being held on the boat, but we have no way of contacting them,” she told the Guardian. “They are basically hostages, and we don’t know what they are going to do with them next. We have seen a number of small boats travel to the Arctic Sunrise since it moored, but we have no information about who is on them or what their purpose is.”


Favorskaya said there were 30 activists of 16 nationalities on board the boat. A spokesman for the British Embassy in Moscow told the Guardian a consular official is on standby in Murmansk attempting to get access to the six British nationals believed to be on board. The Arctic Sunrise sails under a Dutch flag, and a Dutch diplomat is also in Murmansk.


“Representatives of the consular services whose nationals are aboard the ship have requested a meeting with the environmentalists. Such a meeting will be organised,” an official of the Russian security service FSB in Murmansk told the Russian agency Interfax, adding that for now the activists would remain on board the ship.


As of Tuesday lunchtime, Greenpeace employees had still not spoken with anyone on board. “We are trying to make contact, but nothing yet,” said Mikhail Kreindlin of Greenpeace Russia in Moscow. “We are trying to find out what happens next.”


Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for Russia’s investigative committee, said on Tuesday that Greenpeace’s activities “not only infringe on the sovereignty of the state, but could also threaten the whole region’s ecosystem”.


Earlier, a spokesperson for the FSB said authorities decided to storm the boat on suspicion that the activists heading towards the rig were carrying an explosive device. Greenpeace says their safety pod was brightly coloured and clearly marked with the organisation’s logo.


Kreindlin said it was “absurd” to think that an organisation with a long history of non-violent protest could have been engaged in any kind of violent hostile activity. He said that in order to be charged with piracy, authorities would need to show that its activists wanted to seize property using violence, but Russian authorities disagree.


“When a foreign vessel filled with unspecified electronic technical equipment and a group of people claiming to be part of an ecological organisation try to storm a drilling platform, there are obvious doubts about their intentions,” said Markin of Russia’s investigative committee.


“It is hard to believe that these so-called activists did not know that the platform is a dangerous place and any unsanctioned actions on it could lead to an accident, which would endanger not only the people on board but also the ecosystem they are so zealous about defending.”


In a statement, Greenpeace International’s general counsel, Jasper Teulings, said the piracy charges showed “real desperation”, and insisted that piracy laws did not apply to peaceful protests. The organisation says supporters have sent more than 400,000 letters to Russian embassies around the world calling for the activists to be freed.


The Prirazlomnaya platform belongs to the Russian state energy giant Gazprom, and is due to begin operations early next year. It would make Gazprom the first company to drill offshore in the Arctic. Greenpeace say there are no safety plans in place for an oil spill at the rig, and that drilling there could cause huge damage to the fragile Arctic ecosystem. The company has denied there is any risk.


“We hope the investigative committee puts a stop once and for all to Greenpeace’s piracy in Russian waters,” Gazprom’s Arctic division wrote on its Twitter feed. “Good luck to them!” The company also linked to a television poll asking whether Greenpeace are environmental activists or “foreign agents and provocateurs”.

Source: The Guardian

Russia grills Greenpeace activists

Activists who tried to scale Arctic drilling platform are questioned, though President Putin says they are not pirates.

Thirty activists of Greenpeace who attempted to climb onto an Arctic offshore drilling platform last week have been interrogated for several hours before being taken to a detention facility.

Russia’s main federal investigative agency said it would prosecute the activists on piracy charges for trying to access the platform owned by the state-controlled gas company Gazprom.

The activists from 18 countries were on a Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, which was seized by the Russian Coast Guard and towed into a small bay near Russia’s Arctic port of Murmansk.

The Greenpeace protest was aimed at calling attention to the environmental risks of drilling for oil in Arctic waters.

The Investigative Committee said its agents would question all those who took part in the protest and detain the “most active” of them on piracy charges.

Piracy carries a potential prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine of 500,000 rubles ($15,500).

‘Not pirates”

Meanwhile, the Russian President Vladimir Putin said though the activists were not pirates, they had broken international law.

“It is absolutely evident that they are, of course, not pirates, but formally they were trying to seize this platform. It is evident that those people violated international law,” Putin said at an Arctic forum on Wednesday.

The oil platform, the first offshore rig in the Arctic, was deployed to the vast Prirazlomnoye oilfield in the Pechora Sea in 2011, but its launch has been delayed by technological challenges.

Gazprom has said it was to start pumping oil this year, but no precise date has been set.

Source: Al Jazeera

Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras

Editorial Committee

David Dunham

Arno Ambrosius

Gustavo López Ospina

Mariana Almeida

Frank Brouwer

Pieter Jan Brouwer

Assistant: Emilia Romero

SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer. 


~ by FSVSF Admin on 25 September, 2013.

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