MOSCOW, October 1 (RIA Novosti) – Greenpeace has collected more than 700,000 signatures on a petition to release its activists who are currently behind bars in Russia after protesting at an Arctic oil rig, the environmental organization said on Twitter on Tuesday.
Greenpeace called on visitors to its website to write to Russian embassies with a request to free its activists and end Arctic drilling.
“700,000+ emails now sent to embassies,” Greenpeace said on the microblogging website.
On September 18, the environmental organization's icebreaker, the Arctic Sunrise, approached the Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Pechora Sea, owned by a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, and its activists tried to scale the platform in protest against drilling in the Arctic. The following day, Russian border guards stormed the vessel by helicopter and towed it to the northern Russian port city of Murmansk.
Russian authorities detained all 30 members of the ship’s multinational crew, comprising citizens of 19 countries, including Argentina, Finland, Sweden, UK, Ukraine and the US. Courts in Murmansk have ordered the activists to be kept in custody until November 24.
Although no charges have yet been brought against the detainees, Russia’s Investigative Committee has said it is investigating them for piracy, punishable by up to 15 years behind bars in Russia. In a statement Monday, investigators said that they viewed the activists’ actions “as a real threat to the personal safety of the platform staff and property, as well as constituting resistance to law enforcement officers.” Greenpeace insists its protest was peaceful and posed no threat.
Environmental groups oppose drilling for oil in the Arctic because they say that it is currently impossible to sufficiently clean up potential oil spills in the region, and that such drilling cannot be economically viable without state subsidies.