Detained Greenpeace icebreaker to leave Murmansk soon
MURMANSK, July 21 (RAPSI) – The Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise, will depart Murmansk in northern Russia after spending 10 months at the port, most of that period being held by border officials, Yevgenia Belyakova, the coordinator of Greenpeace Russia’s Arctic program, told RIA Novosti.
“The ship is technically fit and will leave the port in the next few days,” Belyakova said without disclosing the exact date. She said the ship would head to Amsterdam for maintenance.
The Arctic Sunrise, with 30 people on board, was seized by the Russian border guard on September 19 in international waters, within Russia’s exclusive economic zone. The action occurred after two Greenpeace activists scaled the Prirazlomnaya drilling rig in the Pechora Sea in the southeastern part of the Barents Sea.
The ship was towed to Kola Bay and the 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists on board were charged with piracy. The charges were later reduced to hooliganism and the activists were released on amnesty timed for the 20th anniversary of the Russian constitution.
The drilling platform, owned by Gazprom Neft Shelf, a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, is the world’s first ice-resistant stationary oil platform set to produce offshore Arctic oil.
Greenpeace and other environmental groups oppose oil drilling in the Arctic because they say it is not possible technically to clean up potential oil spills in the region at this point, and because such drilling cannot be economically viable.
In May 2014, the order to seize the Arctic Sunrise was rescinded, and its crew members were allowed to board the ship.