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Greenpeace activists to be kept at Murmansk detention centre for 2 months

September 30, 2013, 10:54 UTC+3
On Sunday, the Leninsky court in the city of Murmansk continued to arrest remaining Greenpeace activists, who were participating in an action at the oil drilling rig Prirazlomnaya
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On Sunday, the Leninsky court in the city of Murmansk, Northern Russia, continued to arrest remaining Greenpeace activists, who were participating in an action at the oil drilling rig Prirazlomnaya. All of them were brought to the detention centre for two months. The detectives found that without permanent residence place in Russia Greenpeace activists may escape justice and attack the oil drilling rig Prirazlomnaya again. On September 8, 2013, a group of representatives from the ecological human rights organization Greenpeace sailed to the offshore oil drilling rig Prirazlomnaya onboard the ship Arctic Sunrise and tried to board the drilling rig. Thirty people, including foreign citizens, were detained.

The court ruled to arrest 22 out of 33 crewmembers of the ship Arctic Sunrise by weekend, the cases of other eight activists were delayed over the absence of interpreters, who had been found just by Sunday, the Novye Izvestia daily reported. Greenpeace press-secretary Dmitry Litvinov with the dual citizenship of Sweden and the United States was the first to be arrested for two months on Sunday. The lawyer asked the court to release the client on a bail of one million rubles, but the court found that Litvinov may flee abroad. Finnish alpinist Sini Saarela was arrested as well. During the action she tried to get on the offshore drilling rig, but fell in the water. The young woman said to the court through the interpreter that she has vitally important medicines only for one day (the young woman has Graves disease). Meanwhile, her lawyer said that Sini was taken to the Murmansk regional hospital with running temperature and suspected flue on Friday. Although the doctor said that the young woman should be treated at the hospital for 5-7 days, the Finnish citizen was brought back to the detention centre on Saturday.

Dutch female citizen Faiza Oulahsen is a participant in the protest action against the oil production on the drilling rig Prirazlomnaya. In her view, the detention was illegal, because the icebreaker is considered to be the territory of the Netherlands, the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily reported. “This is the same thing as if Russia might have invaded the territory of my country. My freedom is restricted already for ten days, this is illegal,” she believes. Oulahsen also complained about her state of health. In her words, she needs a doctor, but the medics are not permitted to visit her. The Dutch activist was also put under arrest. Other activists shared her fate. The last trial versus the Brazilian female citizen ended at about 20:30 local time (16:30 GMT). She was also brought to the detention centre.

Greenpeace did not agree at all with this interpretation of the law and pledged to sue Russian authorities for the capture of the activists, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily noted. The claims that several ropes and a banner could have damaged the drilling rig are absurd, in their view. Moreover, during an alleged storming Russian border guards forced the ship Arctic Sunrise to return from the neutral waters to the Russian territory under the threat of use of force. The lawyers also sided with the ecologists. Although, for purely formal reasons the ecological activists can be accused of piracy, it will be impossible to prove that the organization masterminded to capture the oil drilling rig. President Vladimir Putin has earlier doubted that the actions of the Greenpeace activists can be taken as piracy.

The attack on the oil drilling rig Prirazlomnaya and further investigating actions against the Greenpeace activists evoked an equivocal response in Russia and other countries, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily reported. Spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee Vladimir Markin explained that the ship Arctic Sunrise, which was carrying people who tried to board illegally the drilling rig Prirazlomnaya, was sailing in the Russian exclusive economic zone. The effect of the Russian Criminal Code spreads on the crimes committed in this zone.

“When the foreign ship is overfilled with electronic equipment of unclear designation and a group of people, who named themselves as members of the ecological human rights organization, tries to storm the drilling rig, lawful doubts arise over their intentions. These suspicions are absolutely justified, because it is hardly believed that the so-called activists were unaware that the drilling rig is a site of high danger and any unauthorized actions on it may result in a breakdown that would endanger not only people on the drilling rig, but also zealously protected ecologists,” Markin stated. “As a matter of fact, actually these actions encroach not only on the state sovereignty, but also can threaten ecological security in the whole region,” he said.

“This would be good, if they were fined properly for their ‘exotic’ behavior and probably the most active of them were banned to exit our country for some period of time,” the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily quoted Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin as saying. “It is not compulsory to arrest all activists. The captain and other activists responsible for the offence who knew about everything can be detained. Other crewmembers can be just put on recognizance not to leave the city as long as their criminal role is found,” he said.

Raising a massive outcry in the world over an excessive response to the actions of Greenpeace, Russian authorities played in the hands of the world ecological lobby, the Vedomosti daily believes.

Not the politics should be important in this case as ecologists and oil analysts agreed on, the newspaper believes. Specialists say about the loss-making of oil production in the Arctic and the lack of technologies to clean up oil spills in icy conditions.

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