A Russian court on Thursday ordered two Greenpeace activists to be detained for two months after authorities accused them of piracy for protesting on an Arctic oil rig.
Russian investigators accused 26 foreign and four Russian Greenpeace protesters of piracy after their Sept. 18 protest on the Gazprom oil rig.
The Lenin district court ruled that two Russian activists, photographer Denis Sinyakoc and Greenpeace expert Roman Dolgov, should be detained until Nov. 24.
None of the activists have been charged with any crime.
The Netherlands has threatened legal action against Moscow if its protestors were not immediately released, AFP reported.
Greenpeace Russia tweeted that the activists are suspected of “piracy with the aim of seizing property by threatening violence as part of an organized group.”
Sinyakov told the court that “all the accusations are baseless” and that “My weapon was my camera.”
Putin said Wednesday that the activists are in violation of international law. He believes they were trying to “seize” the oil platform.
“It is perfectly obvious that they are no pirates," he said. "But they made a deliberate attempt to seize the oil platform. Our law-enforcement agents, our border guards didn’t know who was trying to seize the platform under the guise of Greenpeace. Especially against the background of the bloody events that were taking place in Kenya – that could have been anything.”
Greenpeace is happy with Putin’s announcement. They were alarmed when they thought the protesters would be charged with piracy, which carries with it a sentence of 15 years in jail.
“Thank God, there is a reasonable high-ranking person who has finally admitted that this accusation is not right with regards to this international non-violent organisation. All our actions are non-violent, they are peaceful,” said Evgenia Belyakova, Greenpeace Russia Arctic campaigner.
In August, travelling on an icebreaker ship called the Arctic Sunrise, the group claimed Russian officials were blocking them from entering the Northern Sea Route in order to hide its lucrative oil drilling. Officials questioned the integrity of their ship, but Arctic Sunrise has a higher ice classification than many of the vessels allowed into the Northern Sea Route this year.