President Putin: Greenpeace activists were 'obviously' not pirates
Heather Saul is a digital reporter for The Independent, currently working on the People desk. She has written news and features across a number of topics, paying particular attention to the activities of Isis and events in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Wednesday 25 September 2013
Russian president Vladimir Putin has said "it was completely obvious" Greenpeace activists currently detained over an Artic drilling protest were not pirates, despite Russian authorities announcing on Tuesday that investigators were considering piracy charges.
Mr Putin spoke after Russian border control guards boarded Greenpeace vessel the Arctic Sunrise in the Arctic's Pechora Sea, near to oil company Gazprom's platform.
Thirty activists, including six Britons, were detained by Russian authorities last week.
The ship and protesters have been brought to the port of Murmansk, and Russian authorities said they were investigating charges of piracy, which carry a jail term of 10 to 15 years, against the activists.
But Mr Putin said that Russian authorities did not know who was trying to seize the oil platform and drew parallels between the activists and the events of the terrorist attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi. “Especially in view of the events in Kenya, really, anything can happen,” he said.
Greenpeace have since welcomed his comments, but described the claim that Russian border guards did not know who the activists were as "not credible".
International executive director Kumi Naidoo said: "Our ship bears two large rainbows, two peace doves and has Greenpeace emblazoned on each side. They followed us for over 24 hours before the protest began. We have a long history of peaceful activism in Russia and are well known to the authorities."
“Our climbers attempted to attach themselves to the side of the platform to raise attention to the threat of Arctic oil drilling in this fragile environment and the urgent need to deal with climate change.
“This was a peaceful protest against Gazprom's ambitions to be the first company to pump oil from icy Arctic seas.”
Greenpeace is campaigning against attempts by companies to extract oil from the waters of the Arctic, warning that a spill would be highly environmentally damaging and extraction of more fossil fuels will add to climate change.
Additional reporting by agencies
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