Greenpeace International ship nears Murmansk port as 30 activists await possible charges

Press release - September 24, 2013
Murmansk, September 24, 2013 - The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is close to arriving in the port of Murmansk after being boarded by Russian authorities last week following a peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling.

The ship arrived under tow in the fjord near Murmansk around 10:00 local time this morning accompanied by a tug boat and the Russian Coast Guard vessel Ladoga, following Thursday’s boarding by armed security forces.

A number of independent legal experts have now supported Greenpeace International’s position that the boarding was illegal under international law. (1) Separately, over 50 Russian NGOs including WWF Russia have signed a joint statement calling for the activists to be released. (2)

Greenpeace International lawyers are demanding immediate access to the 30 activists, including two New Zealanders, who have been held for over four days without legal or consular assistance. It is still not known whether Russia intends to lay formal charges and Greenpeace has not received any formal contact from the authorities.

Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said:

“Greenpeace International has a 40 year history of taking peaceful action to protect the environment, and last week’s protest against dangerous Arctic oil drilling was carried out in line with these strong principles. Our activists did nothing to warrant the reaction we’ve seen from the Russian authorities.

“It’s been four days since our ship was boarded and we have still not been offered a legal basis for the raid, and nor have our activists been allowed any contact with lawyers or consular officials.

“Our activists are motivated only by a passionate belief in the need to protect the Arctic from reckless oil drilling and climate change. We demand their immediate release.”

In August last year Naidoo protested at the same Prirazlomnaya platform (3) as well as appearing alongside Russian scientists to present evidence showing the potential consequences of an oil spill from the structure. The study estimated that over 3,000 miles of Russia’s coastline could be affected (4).   

Greenpeace International today highlighted worker footage of the platform showing a large safety ladder being ripped off the side of the platform during a fierce Arctic storm in October 2011 (5)

A full timeline of events, as well as Greenpeace International’s response to various allegations about the direct action including possible piracy charges are available at http://www.greenpeace.org/international/arctic/  

ENDS

CONTACT:


Information about last week’s protest at Gazprom’s oil platform can be found here.



Link to primary news edit from Wednesday (and where other materials will also be uploaded as and when we receive any):

Any new film footage will also appear on ftp.greenpeacemedia.net

(Username: dvout / Password: 3e4r5t / Folder: 1309_Arctic_Sunrise_Murmansk)


Notes:

(1) Prof. Dr. Stefan Kirchner, Visiting Professor Fundamental and Human Rights, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, stated in a legal opinion published 22 September 2013:

“Russia’s actions with regard to the ARCTIC SUNRISE are incompatible with the international law of the sea as codified in the Law of the Sea Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and possibly other international treaties. It appears that Russia has violated the human rights of the crew members as well as rights of the flag State (Netherlands) and of the crew members‘ respective home States. In order to comply with international law, Russia has to ensure the speedy release of the vessel and its crew.”

Prof. Dr. Gert Jan Knoops, Adjunct Professor International Criminal Law, stated in Dutch daily De Volkskrant on 20 September 2013 that, judging on the information available to him, the Russian Coast Guard lacked the legal authority to board the Arctic Sunrise.

Prof. Dr. Doris König, Claussen Simon Chair for International Law at Bucerius Law School in Hamburg commented on 20 September 2013 that it is likely that the ship’s arrest outside of the safety zone constitutes a violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

(2) NGOs included WWF Russia, Moscow and Bellona, St. Petersburg. Joint statement is available here.



(3)http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/Greenpeace-International-head-boards-Gazprom-Arctic-oil-platform/

(4)http://www.greenpeace.org/russia/en/news/Prirazlomnaya-oil-spill-would-threaten-Russian-Arctic-with-irreparable-disaster-study-/

(5) Ladder footage seen at http://tv29.ru/?bl60number=8211

Cited by WWF Russia PP 8

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