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Russian Coast Guard arrests 25 environmental activists in Arctic Sea - Greenpeace

Russia arrested 25 activists from the ‘Save the Arctic’ campaign who tried to hinder the work of a Gazprom oil rig in the Arctic Sea, Greenpeace said. It comes after Moscow lodged a protest with the Netherlands over the actions of the activists' vessel.

The Coast Guard boarded Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise vessel in the Barents Sea and arrested the activists on Thursday, coordinator of Greenpeace Russia’s Arctic Project, Evgeniya Belikova, told ITAR-TASS news agency. 

The protesters, who were campaigning against environmental risks posed by increased energy exploitation in the Arctic, warned that an oil spill would be highly damaging to the environment and that the extraction of more fossil fuels would add to climate change.

Two more Greenpeace activists, Marco Polo of the Netherlands and Finland’s Sini Saarela, were arrested by the Coast Guard on Wednesday after they scaled the Prirazlomnaya oil platform. They were later released and brought back to the Arctic Sunrise.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard fired warning shots “due to the real threat to the security of the Russian oil and gas complex facility and insubordination to requests to abort the illegal activity.” They noted that “the ship did not respond to the warning fire signals." The Coast Guard has yet to comment on Thursday’s incident.

Earlier, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the activists’ actions “provocative” and accused the Arctic Sunrise of “threatening the safety of the ships involved in the development of the Russian sector of the Arctic shelf.”

Moscow on Thursday drafted a letter of protest to the Embassy of the Netherlands – the country where the ship is registered.

This is the second Greenpeace protest to take place on the Prirazlomnaya oil rig. In August 2012, six Greenpeace activists occupied the platform where Gazprom is expected to conduct offshore oil mining, staging a 15-hour protest.