Russia is holding 30 Greenpeace activists for questioning in a piracy investigation after seizing a ship two of them used to scale an OAO Gazprom (GAZP) rig in the Arctic to protest the company’s plan to extract oil there.
The 30 environmental activists, who are from 19 countries including the U.S., face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison if found guilty, Amnesty International said in a statement protesting the detentions. Everyone responsible for acts of piracy will be prosecuted regardless of nationality, Russia’s top law-enforcement body, the Investigative Committee, said in a statement on its website.
President Vladimir Putin said today that while the Greenpeace workers “clearly” aren’t pirates, they violated international law by trying to seize a drilling platform. The action alarmed Russian officials, who couldn’t be certain who was trying to board the rig, Putin said at an Arctic energy conference in Salekhard, the closest town to the Polar Circle.
“Especially against the background of the bloody events that happened in Kenya, everything is possible,” Putin said, referring to an attack by Islamist militants on an upscale mall in Nairobi that killed at least 61 civilians. “We didn’t know who was trying to seize it.”