Greenpeace activists ‘held at gunpoint’ in Russian waters

A total of 30 Greenpeace campaigners remain under the control of authorities in Russia following what they claim was a “peaceful protest” in the Russian waters of the Arctic Circle. […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

A total of 30 Greenpeace campaigners remain under the control of authorities in Russia following what they claim was a “peaceful protest” in the Russian waters of the Arctic Circle.

The environmental activists claim the Russian Coast Guard boarded the Greenpeace International ship ‘Arctic Sunrise’ (pictured) using a helicopter and ropes and started rounding up the people on the helideck “detained on their knees with guns pointed at them”. The ship has been under armed guard since 1900 Moscow time yesterday and Greenpeace claims 11 warning shots were also fired across the ship.

The campaigners scaled Gazprom’s oil rig Prirazlomnoye in the remote Pechora Sea in protest against the energy giant’s plans to drill in the Arctic earlier this week, following which two protesters had initially been arrested.

This isn’t the first demonstration as activists in the UK also scaled London’s Shard against Shell’s drilling operations in the Arctic earlier this year.

Greenpeace International said it has not received any formal confirmation of possible charges and claims the activists have been denied access to legal or consular assistance. More than 20 Greenpeace officers are organising protests at Russian embassies around the world today.

Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace International’s Arctic oil campaign 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.”

Energy company Gazprom declined to comment on the incident when approached by ELN.