This message was sent by our campaigner Dima Litvinov who is on-board the Arctic Sunrise in the Pechora Sea…
"Root out the black shame from your heart, calmly and indifferently, I covered my ears with my hands" A. Akhamtova
Anna Akhamtova is a famous Russian poet, and the name of the ship we were stopping today.
After a rather quiet and calm weekend we decided to pay Gazprom another visit again this morning.
Here is a quick drawing of how the platform is organized in its day-to-day life: half of the work force does not sleep on board. They live on a chartered passenger ship, the Anna Akhmatova, which is anchored near the Prirazlomnaya. Every morning at around 5AM this ship heaves anchor and backs up to the platform, where its tied up by mooring lines. A sleepy mass of morning-grumpy welders, fitters marches on board for a day of work. In the evening this process is reversed and they all go back to their "home".
At around 3.30 this morning, two boats from the Arctic Sunrise went to the Anna Akhmatova. One of them, carrying four activists including our Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, chained to the ship’s anchor line, effectively making it unable to move. It took them a while but pretty soon the platform realized what happened and what it meant. At first they were a bit blasé and the Anna tried to move her anchor: they tried raising the anchor a bit (boat gets a bit vertical, activists stay in) and they then tried to lower it a bit (the boat gets filled with water, the activists stay in). To no avail.
After a while the Prirazlomnaya’s first officer ordered its stand-by vessels and Anna Akhmatova to turn on the water hoses and use them on our people. However Kumi's idea to rig up the banner ("Minimum ice--maximum risk") as a water shield gave the folks a bit of protection, so they just stayed on. The time was ticking and it began to dawn on the first officer that they may be late with the 5 AM shift change, unless the Greenpeace's boat could be removed from the anchor chain. His reaction ? Calling the nearby coast guard ship asking them to help out. Unfortunately for him, the coast guard’s reply was that they had “no orders to intervene."
The shock must have been quite hard for the first officer.
At this point the shift change is already late. He is forced to report to the management in Moscow and informs Anna Akhmatova and the two stand-by vessels that he is ordered to use ANY MEANS at their disposal to continue operations. Obviously: Gazprom is in a hurry to drill.
The Prirazlomnaya’s chief officer attempts to talk to us: "come on guys, you made your point, you have already got your media coverage, why don’t you leave now" Unfortunately for him, the answer is pretty obvious: this is not about PR. It's about stopping the destruction of the planet!
The time is ticking. Another scheduled shift to come from Akhmatova is set for 12.00. Meanwhile the workers on board the Akhmatova seem to be making bets on how long we last. The chief officer make a decision: he orders to the stand-by ships to train their fire monitors -- this is water cannons on the deck, pressurized to over 20 BARS, capable of sending a stream of water over the top of the platform - directly onto our boats. The activists get washed out of the RIB and thrown together into the 9 degree water some distance away. The activists are picked up the anchor chain is heaved and our boat is cut off from it.
At this point half of the work day of Prirazlomnaya has been interrupted. But the day is not finished! As the Anna Akhmatova finally starts moving towards the rig, we deployed the total of 4 boats and get behind her, getting ready to interfere again...
And the indeed, the ship stopped... again.
As Anna Akhamtova wrote it : "Courage: Great Russian word, fit for the songs of our children's children, pure on their tongues, and free."