Russia transfers detained Greenpeace activists to St Petersburg

30 men and women detained in September when Arctic Sunrise stormed by Russian military are being transported from remote northern city of Murmansk

Thirty people arrested in Russia over a protest against Arctic oil drilling were moved from the northern city of Murmansk on Monday on their way to pre-trial detention centres in St Petersburg, federal investigators and Greenpeace said.

The 28 environmental activists and two journalists - including six Britons -  were detained by the Russian coast guard in September when they attempted to scale Russia's first offshore Arctic oil rig.

Confirmation of the move came when lawyers representing the group tried to visit them early this morning, but were told by officials at the detention centre that the thirty were being transported.

A move has been rumoured since the beginning of November. Russian authorities have not said why they are moving the prisoners but it is thought that it will make things easier for prosecutors to hold a trial in Russia’s second city, rather than a remote frontier area.

Relatives and consular officials will also be able to reach them more easily in St Petersburg. It is not known if conditions in the new detention centre will be better than those in Murmansk.

St Petersburg is around 830 miles from Murmansk and Greenpeace said it may take from 24 to 72 hours before it becomes clear which detention centre or centres the group have been placed in.

Whether the transportation is being made by train or car is not known, although train is the most common method - a journey which takes over 24 hours.

Ben Ayliffe, a Greenpeace International spokesperson, said: “We don’t yet know if the relocation of these wrongfully accused people will see an improvement in terms of their detention conditions and basic human rights. We are doing everything in our power to ensure that the Arctic 30 are transported in a humane way.”

The activists were arrested when Russian military stormed their ship, the Arctic Sunrise on 18 September. They had initially been charged with piracy, but authorities have said this will be replaced with the less severe charge of hooliganism, reducing the maximum sentence from 15 years to seven.

“At the heart of the matter is the simple basic truth that their incarceration is unlawful. These people are neither pirates, nor hooligans, they are innocent,” Ayliffe said.

Moscow has said the protest posed a threat to the security of personnel and environmental safety by disturbing the work at the platform. The case will be processed in line with Russian law, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently told a press conference.

The Netherlands, where the Greenpeace ship is registered, has lodged a legal case with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea seeking to free all 30 of the group.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Furniture Installer / Driver

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Furniture Installer /...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - North West - OTE £40k

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Ashdown Group: SQL DBA - Croydon - up to £65,000

£58000 - £65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL DBA - Bromley, South East London...

Ashdown Group: Business Development Manager (Professional Services) - Leeds

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Development Manager (Profes...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor