Pechora Sea, 19 September 2013 - Greenpeace International continues to seek the release of activists Sini Saarela (Finland) and Marco Weber (Switzerland) who are being held by the Russian Coast Guard following a peaceful protest against Gazprom’s Arctic oil drilling operations.
The Greenpeace International ship Arctic Sunrise is currently circling the Gazprom platform off the northern coast of Russia following Wednesday’s protest and is demanding contact with the Russian Coast Guard vessel, following behind the Greenpeace ship.
The Coast Guard has failed to reveal whether the activists will be charged or released, but has instead issued spurious statements suggesting the activists are ‘guests’ on the Coast Guard vessel and that Greenpeace International is not responding to requests for contact.
“If the Russian Coast Guard was serious about wanting to release our activists, who are being held against their will without legal representation, it knows how to contact us. These activists have been detained during a peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling and should be released or allowed to contact a lawyer and receive consular assistance,” Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace International’s Arctic oil campaign, said.
Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of International Affairs has declared the Coast Guard intervened during Wednesday’s protest because the Arctic Sunrise represented an environmental and security threat — a claim that Greenpeace International strongly disputes.
“The Coast Guard has threatened our activists at gunpoint and fired 11 warning shots across our ship, so who is the real threat to safety here? If the Coast Guard wants to protect the environment, it should stop acting as a quasi-security force for Gazprom,” Ayliffe added.
“Drilling for oil here in the Arctic is a grave environmental risk that must be stopped and this is why Greenpeace International is here, taking peaceful action to defend the environment on behalf of the millions of people around the world who are opposed to drilling operations.
“Let’s be absolutely clear about this: the real threat to the Arctic comes not from Greenpeace International but from oil companies like Gazprom that are determined to ignore both science and good sense to drill in remote, frozen seas.”
Greenpeace International press desk: or +31 20 718 24 70