Two Canadians detained after Russia seizes Greenpeace vessel in Arctic protest
Two Canadians are among 30 Greenpeace activists arrested by Russian authorities.
A post on the Greenpeace International website describes a dramatic raid on a Greenpeace vessel that was sailing in Arctic waters in close proximity to a Russian oil platform.
“Officials from the Russian security service FSB [Federal Security Service], armed with guns and knives, abruptly stormed the ship using a helicopter and ropes,” writes Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace’s Arctic oil campaign. “Once on the ship, they rounded up our activists and ordered them into the mess.”
According to Greenpeace, 11 “warning shots” were fired during the initial altercation.
The post continues: “These are desperate acts of intimidation designed by the oil industry to silence our campaign against Arctic drilling. But we will not be intimidated. We will not be silenced.”
According to the Globe and Mail, the two Canadians taken are from Port Colborne, Ontario, and Montreal, Quebec. The first has been named as Paul Ruzycki while identity of the second individual has not yet been released.
The activists are currently being held in the vessel’s mess area, the Globe’s report states. It also includes a Greenpeace claim that the ship’s communications equipment has been destroyed.
The Greenpeace vessel is named the Artic Sunrise and flies under a Dutch flag. The government of the Netherlands has reportedly attempted to engage Russian authorities to discuss the incident.
The altercation occurred as the Arctic Sunrise was circling an oil platform operated by Gazprom, one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world and of which the Russian government holds a majority stake.
According to CBC News, the rig targeted for protest by Greenpeace is located in a southwestern arm of the Barent Sea called the Pechora Sea. That report cites the Russian news agency Interfax as stating that the Greenpeace vessel has since been towed to Murmansk, a port city in a remote region of northwest Russia.
Greenpeace has decried the ship and crew’s seizure as “illegal”. Russian authorities argue that their measures were a justified response to a “provocative” action that “posed a threat to human life”.
The Arctic Sunrise was involved in a previous altercation with Russian security services earlier in the week when two Greenpeace activists attempted to board the Gazprom oil platform. A third incident occurred in August.