20 september 2013

Why does Gazprom seem to be making ridiculous claims about our safety pod?

Blogpost by Ben Ayliffe, Greenpeace, September 20, 2013

Greenpeace International has a long and proud history of peaceful protests in defence of the environment, but right now Russian authorities are holding 30 of our activists on board the Arctic Sunrise for opposing the reckless oil company Gazprom.

It comes after officials from the Russian security service FSB, armed with guns and knives, abruptly stormed the ship using a helicopter and ropes. Once on the ship, they rounded up our activists and ordered them into the mess.

It was a swift and aggressive follow-up to the arrest of two other Greenpeace International activists who climbed Gazprom's dangerous Arctic drilling platform earlier this week. They're now being held with their fellow activists.

The Arctic Sunrise arrived in these icy waters alongside millions of people around the world who oppose Arctic oil drilling. Together, we wanted to protest peacefully against Gazprom's plans to become the first company to pump oil from the icy Arctic ocean.

As part of this protest, Greenpeace International carried a 'safety pod' to the Gazprom platform to shield the activists from things like water cannons.

According to Russian media reports, Gazprom has described the pod as 'resembling a bomb'. The pod measures 3 meters long by 2 meters wide (about the size of a Mini), is painted in bright colours, and was made following a public competition.

Clearly this is ludicrous. The pod is a big foam tube. Non-violence has been enshrined at the core of Greenpeace for more than 40 years. We engage in peaceful protests to expose environmental crimes. We posed no safety threat.

The same, however, cannot be said for the Russian Coast Guard, whose vessel fired 11 warning shots over the Arctic Sunrise on Wednesday as it demanded to board our ship.

So watch this video of the pod and judge for yourself. Check out the online competition we ran to design it. Gazprom's accusation would be funny, if it wasn't so dangerous.

These are desperate acts of intimidation designed by the oil industry to silence our campaign against Arctic drilling. But we will not be intimidated. We will not be silenced.

This illegal boarding of our ship the Arctic Sunrise will not prevent us from exposing Gazprom's dangerous drilling to public scrutiny. It will shine a light on the special treatment the oil industry receives in Russia. It will fuel the resolve of the many millions of people who are demanding an end to oil drilling in the Arctic.

Together we will save the Arctic.

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