Europe between past and future

Sep 22, 2013

LOGS OF SUNDAY, 22-09-2013/ Greenpeace International responds to allegations from Russian authorities

Greenpeace International responds to allegations from Russian authorities

 Feature story - September 22, 2013
On September 18, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise took peaceful action at Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya platform to stop it from producing the world’s first oil from icy Arctic waters.
The Russian Coast Guard reacted strongly: after firing warning shots and detaining two activists under armed guard, they then seized the ship and began to tow it to the port of Murmansk.
A full timeline of events is here.

Over the course of the last few days, many accusations and rumours have surfaced. Here, Greenpeace attempts to clear up the confusion and set the record straight.


"The regional unit of Russia's Investigative Committee said it was considering bringing charges of piracy, which can carry a sentence of up to 15 years in jail." (news piece)
Russia's Investigative Committee announced on Friday that it is formally considering charges of piracy, despite the fact that piracy by definition can only apply to violent acts against ships or aircraft committed for private ends - not peaceful protests against oil platforms carried out to protect the environment. This is clear from Article 101 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The reference to piracy may be an effort to create a retroactive justification for the boarding of the vessel outside territorial waters.
IPR: Greenpeace International dismisses Russian allegations of piracy as 'unjustified and desperate'

Greenpeace 'safety pod'

"Russian authorities have also suggested that a structure the activists approached the oil platform resembled a bomb." (EN; RU)
As part of this protest, Greenpeace International carried a 'safety pod' to the Gazprom platform to shield the activists from things like water cannons.
According to Russian media reports, Gazprom has described the pod as 'resembling a bomb'. The pod is a big foam tube measuring 3 meters long by 2 meters wide (about the size of a Mini), is painted in bright colours, and was made following a public competition.
Non-violence has been enshrined at the core of Greenpeace for more than 40 years. We engage in peaceful protests to expose environmental crimes. We posed no safety threat.
Read more about the safety pod here.

Ship 'held' not arrested

There has been no official statement from the Russian authorities on whether the ship and its crew have been formally arrested and if so, on what legal basis. Officials have made contradictory remarks to the press at various times.
What is certain is that foreign vessels enjoy a right to freedom of navigation in the EEZ, guaranteed under Article 58, paragraph 1 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The grounds on which a foreign vessel may be boarded and arrested in the EEZ are very limited. They include violation of fisheries regulations (Article 73, paragraph 1) or causing or threatening a serious pollution incident (Article 220, paragraph 5). An arrest is also possible for piracy (Article 105) or unauthorised broadcasting (Article 109). It is quite clear that none of these grounds is present. The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, under whose flag the Arctic Sunrise sails, has stated the Russian authorities should have sought permission from the Dutch Government before boarding the vessel.

Activists caused no danger to the oil platform but were protesting peacefully against Arctic oil drilling

'Earlier, the crew has repeatedly taken provocative actions that pose a threat to maritime security of ships engaged in work on the development of the continental shelf in the Russian sector of the Arctic.' (RU)
Our activists are fully trained to conduct this kind of protest peacefully and safely. They did nothing to endanger the platform or Gazprom's workers and they carried nothing more than banners and ropes. A similar protest at the same rig passed off without incident in 2012.
The real threat to the fragile Arctic environment is the giant Prirazlomnaya oil platform, which is operating hundreds of miles away from emergency vessels but right next to the habitats of polar bears, walruses and other wildlife.
International law — specifically, Article 60(5) of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea — allows the declaration of a safety zone of no more than 500m around an offshore installation. The Arctic Sunrise at no point came closer than 500m to the Prirazlomnaya. The Arctic Sunrise was also outside the excessive 3 nautical mile exclusion zone claimed by Russia, except on one occasion when it briefly entered to retrieve the safety pod that would otherwise have posed a possible navigational hazard.
The inflatable boats used during the action did come closer than 500m to conduct peaceful protest. There was no safety risk — the Prirazlomnaya sits on a big steel and concrete box designed to withstand impacts of ice floes. Indeed, it is visited daily by far larger support vessels such as a hotel ship that houses part of its workforce.

The Arctic Sunrise was in international waters not in territorial waters

'The FSB has rejected the environmental campaign group's assertion that the ship was in international waters when it was seized.' (EN)
At the time of the boarding, the Arctic Sunrise was circling Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya platform at the three nautical mile limit, inside international waters. Coordinates confirm that the ship was inside of Russia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), making this an illegal boarding by the Russian Coast Guard.
Legally speaking, the EEZ is similar to the high seas. Foreign vessels have a right to freedom of navigation there - they can enter without permission and go anywhere they want.
The ship's coordinates at the time of arrest were 69 19.86'N 057 16.56'E, showing that the vessel was clearly outside of Russia's territorial waters. This is 34 nautical miles from the Russian coast. These coordinates were received from ship's security alert system and here are the coordinates from the ship's Automatic Identification System (AIS).

Illegal scientific research activities

According to some reports, Russian authorities suspect that Greenpeace International was engaged in unauthorised marine scientific research near the Prirazlomnaya.
Greenpeace has a long tradition of facilitating research from its vessels, but that was not the case this time. Last year Greenpeace International conducted scientific work with a two-person submarine in the Chukchi Sea in the Alaskan Arctic, operating from the Esperanza. Here, we discovered abundant corals in the Arctic waters right where Shell was planning to drill for oil. Last year, the Arctic Sunrise facilitated research on the melting Arctic Sea ice that hit a record low in 2012.
The Arctic Sunrise is currently in the Russian Arctic to expose and protest against the reckless oil rush unfolding there. No scientific research was conducted. In any event, suspicion of unauthorised scientific research is not recognised as a valid ground to board a foreign vessel in the EEZ.

Activists are 'guests', not arrested

'Greenpeace activists were rescued and are not arrested' (RU)
Greenpeace International activists Sini & Marco were taken into custody by Coast Guard agents during the peaceful protest at the Prirazlomnaya platform. They were then held for more than 24 hours against their will on board a Coast Guard ship. Whilst on board this vessel, crew from the Arctic Sunrise had to supply Sini and Marco with food and clothing, hardly a standard procedure for people apparently staying as "guests."
Argentinian activist Camilla Speziale described the events leading up to the arrest in her blog.

Aren't you just doing this for publicity?

Suggesting this was a media stunt demeans the individual actions taken by each of our activists, who put their liberty on the line because they passionately believe that an Arctic oil rush must be prevented. In an age of growing political apathy, taking personal action based on honestly held convictions is something to be respected and supported.

LOGS OF SUNDAY, 22-09-2013 :
( Times in CET! )

- RADIO PINK PANTHER, 6750kcs, 17.55hrs, SINPO 4-5,4444
  ( Pop oldy )

- RADIO ALIVIABAR, 6325kcs, 17.59hrs, SINPO 3-4,4333
  ( Dutch music )

- RADIO ACDC, 6205kcs, 18.28hrs, SINPO 34323
  ( Pop rock music )

- RADIO ONDA CALIENTE, 6240kcs, 18.46hrs, SINPO 2-3,423,2-3
  ( Soft pop music )

- TANGO RADIO, 6210kcs, 19.30hrs, SINPO 3-4,4333
  ( Instrumental music )

- ROCKLIVE RADIO, 6070kcs, 20.23hrs, SINPO 4433,4-3
  ( Rock music )

- RADIO MERLIN INTERN., 6305kcs, 20.27hrs, SINPO 44434
  ( Pop music, then jingle ID )

- RADIO TELSTAR SOUTH, 6255kcs, 20.39hrs, SINPO 44434
  ( Talks in English )

- DE WITTE TORNADO, 1647kcs, 21.09hrs, SINPO 3-2,423,3-2
  ( Dutch music )

- MRF RADIO, 3932kcs, 21.32hrs, SINPO 34333
  ( Pop music )

- UNID ON 6375kcs, 21.45hrs, SINPO 4-5,444,4-5
  ( Pop oldies )

- RADIO VERONIKA, 1625kcs, 22.28hrs, SINPO 34233
  ( Pop oldy )

- UNID ON 1640kcs, 22.32hrs, SINPO 3-2,423,3-2
  ( Dutch music )

- RADIO U BOAT 66, 3905kcs, 22.51hrs, SINPO 34323
  ( Pop oldy )

- RADIO AKAI, 1620kcs, 23.06hrs, SINPO 3423,3-2
  ( Dutch music )

- UNID ON 1629kcs, 23.31hrs, SINPO 34233
  ( Pop oldy )

- RADIO GROENTEBOERTJE, 6250kcs, 23.36hrs, SINPO 2-3,443,2-3
  ( Dutch music )

- RADIO BLUEBIRD, 1638kcs, 23.44hrs, SINPO 34243
  ( Terrible music of Heintje )

- RADIO CASABLANCA(?), 1648kcs, 00.48hrs, SINPO 34233
  ( Pop oldy )


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