Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Greenpeace protest: Russia claims activists ‘posed real threat’

Group was campaigning against attempts by companies to drill for oil in Arctic waters

Russia has underlined its determination to prosecute Greenpeace activists who boarded an Arctic oil rig by declaring they posed a “real threat”.

The state Investigative Committee's statement follows the raid on the offshore drilling platform last week.

All 30 people on the Greenpeace ship, including two journalists, have been jailed for two months pending the investigation. The group was campaigning against attempts by companies to drill for oil in Arctic waters, warning that a spill would be hugely damaging to the environment and that extraction of further fossil fuels will add to climate change.

The Investigative Committee said charges would be filed soon, but did not specify whether it is still considering charging the activists with piracy, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

The investigators said they are continuing to search the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, and have seized some equipment and documents.

The investigators said the Arctic Sunrise had violated the 500-meter security zone around the platform and that it was carrying equipment whose purpose was still unclear.

Greenpeace Russia denied it had entered the zone, established by Russian and international law. The inflatable boats used by activists to scale the offshore platform did violate this zone, but posed no danger, the organisation said.

President Vladimir Putin has previously said that the were clearly “not pirates” but had broken international law.

Executive director of Greenpeace UK, John Sauven, said: “The total overreaction by the Russian authorities to a peaceful non-violent protest in the Arctic Ocean has continued today.

”Even President Putin has publicly stated at a meeting of the Arctic Forum last week that Greenpeace are not pirates. This is an act of intimidation and bullying by the Russian authorities. We will continue to support those who have been imprisoned and their families at this time.“