Arctic Sunrise action timeline

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Feature Story - 23 September, 2013
UPDATED: From peaceful action to dramatic seizure: a timeline of events since the Arctic Sunrise took action September 18 (CET).

September 18, 2013

02.34 - Four inflatables leave the Arctic Sunrise heading towards Gazprom's oil platform, the Prirazlomnaya. Activists attempt to climb and establish themselves on the outside structure of the platform to protest against imminent drilling.

They are here to peacefully protest against the Arctic oil rush, which threatens grave harm to the Arctic environment, as well as extracting more oil that humanity cannot afford to burn. The Prirazlomnaya is the first oil rig to start oil production in the ice-filled waters of the Arctic. Safety culture on the rig is a joke.

The nearby Russian Coast Guard ship quickly responds by launching inflatables manned with agents masked in balaclavas. They proceed to ram and slash the Greenpeace inflatables, threaten activists at gun and knife point and fire warning shots from automatic weapons. Further, the remaining crew onboard the Arctic Sunrise count 11 shots fired across the bow from the Coast Guard vessel's artillery cannon.

Action Against Gazprom's Arctic Drilling. 09/18/2013 © Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

The Coast Guard seizes activists Sini and Marco, who had managed to climb some way up before being forced to retreat by water cannons, taking them aboard their vessel.

The remaining activist returns to the Arctic Sunrise that stays in the vicinity but no closer than 3 nautical miles to the Prirazlomnaya.

17.28 - Camila, a 21 year-old activist from Argentina, describes the action in a blog post.

 

September 19, 2013

13.30 - The Coast Guard describes Marco and Sini as 'guests' but requests to speak to them from the Arctic Sunrise and their lawyer go unanswered. As far as is known, no charges are read out.

16.35 - The Arctic Sunrise alarm system is activated. Phone calls and tweets from the ship report a helicopter hovering over the ship. FSB agents descend onto the deck by ropes. The boarding happens outside Russian territorial waters in the Russian Exclusive Economic Zone. No legal basis is announced for several days.

Three people manage to lock themselves into the radio room from where they provide an eyewitness account of developments on the ship.

They report an estimated 15-16 armed agents on board, who round up the rest of the crew on the helicopter deck.

15.15 - Around 40 minutes after boarding it appears the radio room has been broken into.

19.43 - We receive a phone call from the ship on a bad line. The activists and crew are being gathered in the mess by the FSB agents. Sini and Marco have been brought back on the Arctic Sunrise.

22.00 - The first protest in front of a Russian embassy takes place in Washington DC. More than 30 countries follow over the next day.

22.16 - Russian state media report the Arctic Sunrise is going to be taken to Murmansk, Russia.

 

September 20, 2013

12.03 - Greenpeace confirms that the Arctic Sunrise has begun to move West in the direction of Murmansk, Russia. The phones on the ship are not answering.

13.00 - Greenpeace responds to aRussian media report, quoting a senior official on Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya oil platform who describes a Greenpeace safety pod used in the protest as 'resembling a bomb'. In reality the safety pod — designed to keep the activists warm — measures 3 meters long by 2 meters wide, is brightly coloured, and heavily branded with Greenpeace logos.

Greenpeace Training with the Safety Pod. 09/09/2013 © Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

14.01 - Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, flag state of the Arctic Sunrise, says that Russian authorities should have contacted the Netherlands before attempting any boarding of the ship.

 

September 21, 2013

15.20 - Professor Geert-Jan Knoops, a professor of international criminal law at the University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, is quoted in Dutch media saying:

"As far as the facts are known to me exactly, the Russian coast guard was not entitled [to board the ship]".

15.45 - Still without any news from the Arctic Sunrise crew, Greenpeace International strongly rejects any allegation of piracy. It appears that the Russian government is grasping at straws to justify what was clearly an illegal boarding of the Arctic Sunrise in international waters.

 

September 22, 2013

16.35 - It has been 72 hours since Russian authorities seized the Arctic Sunrise in Russian EEZ without any legal basis.

 

September 23, 2013

11.57 - More than 40 environmental groups call for the immediate release of the 30 Greenpeace International activists being held under armed guard on the Arctic Sunrise under tow towards Murmansk.

 

September 24, 2013

09.00 - Someone onboard manages to send a few mobile phone images from the Arctic Sunrise in the fjord of Murmansk. Images for download here.

10.11 - The Arctic Sunrise comes to a full halt and anchors just outside to Murmansk, see Google map here. Greenpeace response to possible charges of piracy.

14.00 - Still at anchor just outside Murmansk and no official charges have been brought, Greenpeace demands access to detained activists.

16.01 - Chief researcher at the Institute of State and Law and expert of the Law of the Sea, Vasiliy Gutsulyak, gives an interview on Vesti FM on the use of the piracy paragraph. He calls it overstretched. Actually so overstretched that it in his expert opinion is unlikely to be used.

Listen here

17.45 - We have just spoken with the crew. They have been asked to prepare to leave the ship. We don't yet know where they're going.

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