Russia dismisses Dutch legal action over Greenpeace activists

Reuters

MOSCOW, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Russia shrugged off Dutch legalaction over its detention and prosecution of Greenpeaceactivists for piracy, saying on Saturday the group's protest atan Arctic oil platform had been "pure provocation".

The Netherlands launched legal proceedings against Russia onFriday, saying it had unlawfully detained activists and otherson the Dutch-registered ship last month as it protested againstdrilling in the Arctic.

Two Dutch citizens were among 30 people on board the ArcticSunrise, which was seized by Russian authorities near thePrirazlomnaya offshore oil platform.

Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov told state-run newsagency RIA Novosti Russia had repeatedly asked the Netherlands to halt what Russia said was "illegal activity" by the ship.

"Unfortunately, this was not done. Therefore, we have farmore questions for the Dutch side than they can have for us,"RIA quoted Meshkov as saying.

"Everything that happened with the Arctic Sunrise was pureprovocation."

Russian authorities have pressed piracy charges, which couldresult in prison sentences of 15 years.

The Dutch government contests the "unlawful manner" in whichthe ship was intercepted and is seeking the release of all itspassengers, who include 28 activists and two freelancejournalists.

Greenpeace says the activists had been engaged in a peacefulprotest in international waters to highlight the environmentalrisks posed by drilling in Arctic waters.

The group says Russian officials boarded its icebreaker anddetained activists at gunpoint after the group pilotedmotorboats toward an exploration vessel working for Russia's topoil producer, the state-controlled Rosneft, and globalmajor ExxonMobil.

Two activists also scaled the side of the Gazprom-owned Prirazlomnaya platform, actions Russia's ForeignMinistry said threatened security.

As well as the Dutch citizens, the group includes sixBritons, four Russians, two Argentines, two Canadians, two NewZealanders, a man with Swedish and U.S. citizenship and onenational each from the United States, Australia, Brazil,Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey andUkraine.

The activists are currently being held in custody in thenorthern Russian city of Murmansk.

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