The crew of the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, which includes two New Zealanders, remain in the custody of Russian authorities following an armed boarding of the ship in international waters yesterday. The ship has now been under armed guard since 1900 Moscow time on Thursday (3am Friday NZ time).
Due to legal reasons the names of the two New Zealanders can still not be confirmed.
It is now almost 24 hours since Greenpeace International has had any contact with the ship, which appears to be under tow to Murmansk.
Greenpeace International has not received any formal confirmation of possible charges, and the activists have been denied access to legal or consular assistance. Over 20 Greenpeace offices are organising protests at Russian embassies around the world today.
The head of Greenpeace International’s Arctic oil campaign, Ben Ayliffe, said:
“The safety of our activists remains our top priority and we are working hard to establish what is facing them. They have done nothing to warrant this level of aggression and have been entirely peaceful throughout. In our last phone call with the ship, the crew said that their spirit remains high and they have been boosted by messages of support from thousands of people who stand with them to oppose dangerous Arctic oil drilling.
“The real threat to the Russian Arctic comes not from the crew of the Arctic Sunrise but from Gazprom, one of the most reckless oil companies in the world today.”
According to one Russian media report (1), senior officials on Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform described a Greenpeace safety pod used in the protest as ‘resembling a bomb’. In reality the safety pod - designed to keep the activists warm - measures 3 meters long by 2 meters wide, is brightly coloured, and heavily branded with Greenpeace logos (2).The safety pod was designed by competition winner Rubén Bodewig, an architecture student from Spain who beat 350 entrants.
According to activists on the ship, Russian FSB agents forced their way into the ship’s radio room and inflicted significant damage to communication equipment. Some activists were able to conduct interviews by satellite phone from the ship’s mess, where they are being held.
Phil Crawford, Greenpeace NZ communications and media, 021 2299 594
Simon Boxer, Greenpeace NZ climate campaigner, 021 905579
Pictures of the pod are available here: