Moscow: Greenpeace said it will appeal the Russian court rulings that sent its activists to jail for a protest at an offshore drilling platform in the Arctic.
On Thursday, the court in the northern Russian city of Murmansk jailed 28 Greenpeace activists who protested last week near the platform owned by a Russian state energy giant, Gazprom, along with a freelance Russian photographer and a freelance British videographer.
"These detentions are like the Russian oil industry itself, a relic from an earlier era," Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said in a statement yesterday. "Our peaceful activists are in prison tonight for shining a light on Gazprom`s recklessness."
Of the 30 people jailed by the court, 22 were put in custody for two months pending an investigation and the other eight were detained for three days pending a new hearing, now scheduled for tomorrow.
No charges have been brought against any of the activists. Russian authorities are considering whether to charge them with piracy, among other offenses.
The Russian Coast Guard disrupted an attempt by two of the activists to scale the oil platform on Sep 18. The next day, they seized Greenpeace`s ship, the Arctic Sunrise, and towed it with the crew aboard to Murmansk.
Greenpeace Russia campaign director Ivan Blokov described the arrest as "the most aggressive and hostile act against Greenpeace since the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior ship."
Greenpeace`s Rainbow Warrior was bombed by French government agents in New Zealand in 1985, killing one man.
The detained activists are from 18 countries, including Russia, and a long detention or series of trials could draw unwelcome international attention to Russia`s tough policy against protests.
Greenpeace Russia`s lawyer, Anton Beneslavsky, rejected Gazprom`s claims that the activists could have caused damage to the platform.
"If one activist hanging on the rope from the platform could have damaged it, then such a platform should not operate on the Arctic shelf," he told a news conference yesterday.
Beneslavsky also referred to Greenpeace`s protest at the same site last August when six activists spent several hours hanging off the side of the platform attached to the rig`s mooring. Back then, the coast guards "did not react at all to what happened," he said. The activists were not detained and faced no charges.