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Greenpeace Vessels In Russian 'Piracy' Spat

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

25 September 2013

Russian prosecutors have accused the crew of the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise of acts of piracy after an attempt to board Russia's first arctic oil platform, owned by Gazprom.

The vessel was boarded by Russian armed guards in international waters at 1900 hours on September 19, 2013, and was later towed to Murmansk, a port town situated in the far north-west of Russia.

In a statement on September 20, 2013, Greenpeace confirmed that it had not yet received any formal confirmation of possible charges, and is organizing around 20 protests at Russian embassies across the globe.

Russian prosecutors on September 24, 2013, contended that the group's actions amounted to an "attack", classible as piracy under Russia's penal code, which could carry sentences of up to 15 years' imprisonment. Greenpeace has challenged the statement underscoring that its demonstration was peaceful, and argued that Russia's actions contravened international law.

The head of Greenpeace International's Arctic oil campaign, Ben Ayliffe, 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."

TAGS: marine

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