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Greenpeace activists face 15 years in prison for Russian Arctic protest

24 September 2013

Environmental activists who conducted a protest at a Russian Arctic offshore oil platform last week will be prosecuted and could face piracy charges punishable by up to 15 years in prison, Russian investigators said on September 24. Until the cases come to court, all 30 activists from 18 countries have been remanded in custody for two months.

The Prirazlomnaya platform - Photo: Gazprom
The Prirazlomnaya platform - Photo: Gazprom

The Investigative Committee, Russia's federal investigative agency, said it would question all those who participated in the protest and detain the "more active" among them. It said the incident, in which two Greenpeace activists tried scaling Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya platform, the first such Russian facility in the Arctic, had threatened environmental damage to the region and violated Russian sovereignty.

Two activists tried to climb onto the Prirazlomnaya platform and others assisted from small inflatable boats. The Greenpeace protest was aimed at calling attention to the environmental risks of drilling for oil in Arctic waters.

"When a foreign ship full of electronic equipment intended for unknown purposes and a group of people, declaring themselves to be environmental activists, try to storm a drilling platform there are legitimate doubts about their intentions," the investigators said in a statement.

The protest ended in the arrest of all the activists aboard the ship and the detention of the Netherlands-registered vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, which is being towed to a bay near the port of Severomorsk.

Greenpeace has said Russia's actions violated international law and has demanded the immediate release of the activists. The group said protesters aboard the ship had been denied access to lawyers and consular officials for four days.

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