Greenpeace vessels seized by Russians

Sept. 20, 2013 at 6:48 AM

MOSCOW, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Greenpeace protest vessel the Arctic Sunrise and 30 of its demonstrators are in Russian custody for action against an arctic drilling rig, an activist said.

Greenpeace said Wednesday two of its activists were arrested and taken into Russian Coast Guard custody after scaling a drilling platform in the Russian arctic. The group was using its Arctic Sunrise to campaign against Gazprom's operations in the northern Pechora Sea.

Greenpeace said 30 of its demonstrators, including six British nationals, were held at gunpoint by security officials who boarded the protest vessel. One of the activists told the BBC more than a dozen Russia security officials boarded and seized the vessel, the broadcaster reported Friday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday the actions taken by Greenpeace activists "were of an aggressive and provocative nature and had the appearance of extremist activity capable of causing human deaths and other grave consequences," state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The Russian report said Greenpeace wouldn't allow security forces to board the Arctic Sunrise to return protesters arrested earlier this week.

Gazprom had no official comment on the protests. The Arctic Sunrise was sailing under a Dutch flag and the Russian government sent a letter of protest to the Dutch ambassador complaining of "extremist" activity.

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