Russian authorities fired warning shots at Greenpeace activists protesting an arctic drilling program by a subsidiary of Russian energy company Gazprom. The Russian Coast Guard seized the group's Arctic Sunrise protest vessel and arrested some of the campaigners.
Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya rig was towed to the region last year as the first ice-resistant oil rig in the world.
Greenpeace issued a list of complaints against Russian authorities. It said it was frustrated by the possibility protesters may face 15 years in jail for piracy. The advocacy group said piracy is a violent act, not an act of peaceful protest.
Russia's state news agency RIA Novosti reported Friday border officials said Greenpeace efforts to scale an arctic oil rig in the Pechora Sea "bore the signs of piracy." It reported Monday more than 40 environmental groups called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to release Arctic Sunrise.
"Non-violence has been enshrined at the core of Greenpeace for more than 40 years," the group said in a statement Sunday. "We engage in peaceful protests to expose environmental crimes. We posed no safety threat."
Activists have expressed concern about the potential environmental threat to the arctic from energy exploration.
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