The Netherlands demands immediate release of activists

The Greenpeace vessel "Arctic Sunrise" is in arrest in the Kola bay north of Murmansk.

International tension increases around the 30 jailed Arctic oil protesters in Murmansk. The court denies bail and investigators say drugs are found onboard the “Arctic Sunrise” – a claim Greenpeace says is a fabricated smear campaign.


The Netherlands has launched legal proceedings against Russia following what the country’s foreign ministry says is a unlawfully detaining of the activists and others that were on board “Arctic Sunrise” at the time of protest at the Prirazlomnaya oil rig in the eastern Barents Sea last month. The foreign ministry will contest the seizure of the Greenpeace vessel in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg.

“Arctic Sunrise” is Dutch registered and two of the jailed activists are Dutch citizens.

On Friday, the court in Murmansk rejected bail appeals by the two UK citizens, like they have done with other of the activists earlier this week. Among the detained are also a photographer, a freelance journalist and the ship’s doctor. 

The Russian border guards seized “Arctic Sunrise” on September 19 after several of the Greenpeace activists climbed the oil rig in a protest against oil drilling in Arctic waters. The vessel was towed to Murmansk where all 30 onboard now are in pre-trial detention charged with piracy. 

This week, investigators that have searched the Greenpeace vessel staying at anchor north of Murmansk say they have found “hard drugs” including morphine and poppy straw on board. Greenpeace says in a press-release that “we can only assume the Russian authorities are referring to the medical supplies that our ships are obliged to carry under maritime law.”

In addition to the drugs, Reuters reports that Murmansk investigators searching the “Arctic Sunrise” also have “revealed equipment with potential military use.”

In the prison cells at detention center No. 1 in Murmansk, the Greenpeace activists were recently visited by Russia’s human right ombudsman in Murmansk, Aleksandr Patrikeyev. Some questions linked to everyday life were solved immediately. The inmates received exhausting answers and explanations on a number of issues, reports Itar-Tass.

The arrest of the 30 people that were onboard “Arctic Sunrise” has triggered worldwide protests with demonstrations outside Russian embassies and collection of more than one million signatures demanding immediate release. 

Piracy is punishable by up to 15 years in prison in Russia.