Balaclava clad, machine gun toting, Russian FSB agents, rappelled down ropes from helicopters to detain 30 peaceful Greenpeace activists after their ship, the icebreaker Arctic Sunrise was boarded on September 19. In addition to arresting the ship’s crew, the agents did substantial damage to communications equipment. The ship has been impounded and crew members have been incarcerated and are being denied access to legal or consular assistance.
The Arctic Sunrise was in the Arctic to protest Russian fossil fuel company Gazprom, which Greenpeace has called, “one of the most reckless oil companies in the world today.”
The Arctic Sunrise was boarded as it circling Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform at the three nautical mile limit which is inside of Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). According to Greenpeace this is an illegal boarding. As stated in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea foreign vessels are guaranteed the right to navigate in the EEZ of another state without interference of any kind.
Officials on the Prirazlomnaya platform incorrectly alleged that the Greenpeace vessel was carrying a bomb. Earlier, two other Greenpeace activists were arrested and held without charge after they scaled Gazprom’s drilling platform on Wednesday in a peaceful protest.
© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.