Amsterdam, September 25, 2013 - According to media reports (1), Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared that the 30 Greenpeace International activists, including two New Zealanders, detained by Russian authorities after an Arctic drilling protest are ‘obviously not pirates’, but has suggested that they may have broken international laws. He made these remarks at an Arctic forum in Salekhard.
Responding, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said:
“We welcome President Putin’s recognition that our activists are clearly not pirates and acted purely out of concern for the Arctic environment.
“Our climbers attempted to attach themselves to the side of the platform to raise attention to the threat of Arctic oil drilling in this fragile environment and the urgent need to deal with climate change. This was a peaceful protest against Gazprom’s ambitions to be the first company to pump oil from icy Arctic seas.”
Russian authorities today released (2) new footage apparently taken from the rig itself which shows Russian security forces confronting two climbers during the protest last Wednesday. It can be viewed here:
Female climber Sini Saarela from Finland - clearly in distress - is heard shouting “I’m coming down, I’m coming down!” while armed agents recklessly pull on a safety rope used to secure her to the structure. The video then shows live rounds fired into the water by Russian security forces despite an activist on the Greenpeace boat clearly holding his hands in the air, signalling his peaceful intentions.
Russian media sources also reported that Russian border guards who confronted the activists are claiming to have been unaware that the protest was carried out by Greenpeace International:
“The border guard’s claim is simply not credible. Our ship bears two large rainbows, two peace doves and has Greenpeace emblazoned on each side. They followed us for over 24 hours before the protest began. We have a long history of peaceful activism in Russia and are well known to the authorities.” Naidoo added.
Greenpeace Russia has contacted both Gazprom and Russian authorities multiple times in the past to explain the organisation’s peaceful opposition to dangerous Arctic drilling.
All 30 activists remain under arrest near Murmansk, apparently in different locations. Five people were interviewed last night by the Investigative Committee and served papers confirming they were are being investigated for piracy offences. They have not been charged with any offences.
Greenpeace International press desk: +31 (0)20 718 24 70 or
Niall Bennett, head of communications, Greenpeace New Zealand: 0221 831740
Information about last week’s protest at Gazprom’s oil platform can be found here:
Russian authority footage: http://youtu.be/rFF0JTG2-Y8