The federal Investigative Committee said authorities had begun charging 30 people arrested after the protest last month, in which a Greenpeace icebreaker approached the Prirazlomnaya platform and two activists tried to scale the rig – a crucial part of Russia’s effort to mine Arctic resources. By midday, five people had been charged, Greenpeace said – Brazilian crew member Ana Paula Alminhana, Russian activist Roman Dolgov, Finnish activist Sini Saarela, British freelance videographer Kieron Bryan, and Dima Litvinov, an activist with Swedish and U.S. citizenship. “It is an extreme and disproportionate charge,” Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said. “A charge of piracy is being laid against men and women whose only crime is to be possessed of a conscience. This is an outrage and represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest.” A court in the northern city of Murmansk last week ordered all 30 people from 18 countries who had been aboard the Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise to be held in custody for two months pending further investigation. The Investigative Committee said authorities had begun to charge the activists on Wednesday but gave no details. The environmental group says the protest was peaceful and posed no threat, and that piracy charges have no merit in international or Russian law. President Vladimir Putin said last week the protesters were clearly not pirates but they had violated international law. The Investigative Committee said on Monday peaceful aims would not justify what it has called an “attack” that posed a threat to the platform and its personnel. Prirazlomnaya, Russia’s first offshore oil rig in the Arctic, is slated to start operating by the end of the year and is expected to reach peak production of 6 million tonnes per year (120,000 barrels per day) in 2019. Russia, whose slowing economy is heavily reliant on income from energy exports, hopes Arctic oil and gas will help fuel future growth. Putin, whose current term ends in 2018, has described Arctic shipping and development and last month announced plans to reopen a Soviet-era military base in the region.
EDT September 30, 2013 Protesters and activists demonstrate to support the 30 activists arrested in Russia in front of the Russian Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013. (Photo: Peter Klaunzer, AP) Russian officials say activists threaten security of personnel on Arctic offshore drilling platform. Thirty people on Greenpeace ship have been jailed for two months. Russian officials say charges will be filed soon against the activists. SHARECONNECT 29 TWEET COMMENTEMAILMORE MOSCOW (AP) Russia’s main investigative agency on Monday accused Greenpeace activists of posing a “real threat” to the security of personnel on an offshore drilling platform in the Arctic, another indication that Moscow plans to prosecute the jailed environmentalists for their protest. All 30 people who were on a Greenpeace ship, including two journalists, have been jailed for two months pending an investigation into their Sept. 18 protest at the platform owned by state-controlled energy giant Gazprom. The Investigative Committee said charges would be filed soon, but did not specify whether it was still considering charging the activists with piracy, a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The investigators said the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, had violated the 500-meter security zone around the platform and that it was carrying equipment whose purpose was still unclear. In a statement, the investigators said they had seized some equipment and documents from the ship as part of their ongoing search. Greenpeace Russia denied the ship had ventured closer than the 500 meters established by Russian and international law. The inflatable boats used by activists to scale the offshore platform did violate this zone, but posed no danger, the organization said. Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.