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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Russia blasts Netherlands over unanswered calls to tackle Arctic Sunrise activities

Russia blasts Netherlands over unanswered calls to tackle Arctic Sunrise activities This handout picture released on September 28, 2013 by Greenpeace International shows the Greenpeace International ship, Arctic Sunrise (C), in Murmansk harbour. (AFP Photo / Dmitriy Sharomov)This handout picture released on September 28, 2013 by Greenpeace International shows the Greenpeace International ship, Arctic Sunrise (C), in Murmansk harbour. (AFP Photo / Dmitriy Sharomov)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has lashed out at the Netherlands for its failure to curb the activity of the Dutch-flagged 'Arctic Sunrise' Greenpeace vessel, following Amsterdam’s announcement that it’s taking legal action against Moscow. 
On Friday, the Netherlands’ signaled it was taking Russia to an international maritime dispute court to challenge the legality of “Arctic Sunrise” seizure by Russia’s law enforcers. The Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans also said that he would use his diplomatic channels to try and get the 30 detained Greenpeace activists free.  
Moscow slammed the Netherlands for not having intervened in the situation earlier.  
“Over the last year and a half the Russian side made repeated attempts to contact their Dutch counterparts to intervene in the vessel’s illegal activities”, Russian Foreign Ministry deputy head Aleksey Meshkov told RIA Novosti on Saturday. “Unfortunately, this was not done. Therefore we have significantly more questions for the Dutch side than they can have for us.” 
Greenpeace International has meanwhile applauded the news of the Netherlands planning to file a suit at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, based in Hamburg, Germany. 
"International legal experts have uniformly described the piracy charges against the Greenpeace International activists and the freelance photographer and videographer as baseless. While we hope that the Russian prosecutor and courts come to the same conclusion well before these international proceedings are concluded, and the defendants are released, the Dutch legal action sends a strong political signal and gives us hope that justice will prevail,” Greenpeace International’s General Counsel Jasper Teulings said. 
More than 1,500 people marched to the Russian embassy in Helsinki, Finland on Saturday to rally in support of the arrested Greenpeace activists, which include a Finnish citizen. From the beginning, the organizers made it clear they would not tolerate Anti-Russian slogans, said one of the protesters as cited by Gazeta.ru adding that the rally is aimed against the illegality of Gazprom’s activity in the Arctic. 
The Arctic Sunrise approached the Prirazlomnaya oil rig on September 18, despite orders from the Russian Border Guard Service not to do so. Several activists then attempted to climb up the oil-platform, which is the first commercial offshore oil well in the Arctic.  
Artur Akopov, the chief manager on board the Prirazlomnaya rig at the time Greenpeace activists attempted to scale it sides, told RT's Maria Finoshina that the activists posed a threat to the structure’s safety.
“They posed a minor threat until they attempted to board the platform and that we have to prevent by all possible means because they could damage equipment and sabotage our work. This rig is a place of extreme danger,” he said.
Watch RT's report from the rig


Border Guard troops eventually boarded both the rig and the activists’ ship. All of the 30 members of the Greenpeace team were detained and transferred to jail facilities in Murmansk and nearby towns. At the end of September the court charged all of them with piracy and ruled they’d spend two months in pre-trial detention. 
Russian investigators say Greenpeace activists’ actions at the rig “posed a real threat” to employees there. The environmental organization demands the release of the crew, arguing the action was non-violent.