Pechora Sea, September 18, 2013 - Two Greenpeace International activists have been arrested after climbing a Gazprom oil platform in the Russian Arctic, during a peaceful protest that has prompted a disproportionate use of force by the Russian Coast Guard.
There are now no climbers remaining on the platform, but the Greenpeace International icebreaker Arctic Sunrise remains in the area. The two are now in custody on the Coast Guard vessel.
Crew members of the Arctic Sunrise reported that a total of 11 warning shots have been fired across the ship and the Coast Guard has threatened to fire at the ship itself if it does not leave the area immediately.
The Russian Coast Guard has requested to board the Arctic Sunrise but has been refused permission by the ship’s captain. Greenpeace International maintains that such a boarding is unjustified and illegal.
Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace International’s Arctic oil campaign, said:
“Employing this level of force against a peaceful protest ship is completely disproportionate and should stop immediately. It’s clear that oil companies receive special protection from the Russian authorities, who seem more interested in silencing peaceful activists than protecting the Arctic from reckless companies like Gazprom.
“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.”
At 4.30am Moscow time this morning, five inflatable boats were launched from the Greenpeace International ship Arctic Sunrise and headed towards the Gazprom oil rig Prirazlomnaya, in the remote Pechora sea.
Gazprom plans to start production from the Prirazlomnaya platform in the first quarter of 2014, raising the risk of an oil spill in an area that contains three nature reserves protected by Russian law. Greenpeace occupied the same platform in August 2012 with activists including the organisation’s executive director, Kumi Naidoo.
Compelling new images available here.
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Greenpeace International press desk: or +31 20 718 24 70
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