On Sunday, the Guardian reported that worldwide vigils took place, in support of the 28 Greenpeace activist who were arrested in September by Russian authorities, on charges of piracy. Russian authorities claim that the group of 30, which also includes two journalists, used "pure provocation" during their protest at the Russian Arctic oil platform. The Prirazlomnaya oil platform is owned by the Russian state-controlled firm Gazprom and is located in the Pechora Sea. The group, which is being held in the Russian city Murmansk, are from 18-different countries. In response to the Russian authorities claims that the activist provoked them, Greenpeace released a statement claiming the contrary. Greenpeace claims that the activists were protesting peacefully, on-board the Arctic Sunrise, which at the time was located in international waters.
The Arctic Sunrise is registered in the Netherlands, with it's port of registry being Amsterdam. Two of the 28 activists are Dutch citizens, which has triggered the Dutch government to take legal action. On Friday, the Dutch foreign minister, Frans Timmermans, told the media that their goal is to get the group of 30 freed and the Arctic Sunrise released. The Netherlands has applied to the UN's Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and claims that the ship's seizure is unlawful. The Netherlands is the first and only country who has decided to take legal action. "I don't understand why this could be thought to have anything to do with piracy, I don't see how you could think of any legal grounds for that," said Timmermans.
The Russian deputy foreign minister, Alexei Meshkov, claims that Russia has repeatedly spoken with the Netherlands concerning the "illegal activity" by the Arctic Sunrise and its crew of activists. Meskhov claims that they asked the Dutch government to take action against the ships owner, Stichting Phoenix. "Unfortunately, this was not done. Therefore, we have far more questions for the Dutch [government] side than they can [possibly] have for us. Everything that happened with the Arctic Sunrise was pure provocation," said Meshkov.
Dutch and Russian relations have been under fire since Russian president, Vladimir Putin, signed off on a so-called anti-gay propaganda law. During Putin's visit to the Netherlands, in April, thousands of Dutch took to the streets to protest against Russia's anti-gay propaganda law. The law bans homosexuality and allows the government to fine someone close to $15,500 for being homosexual. Euronews.com reports, that a court in Moscow has also placed a 100-year ban on the cities gay pride parried.
The 28 activist and two journalist, face a prison sentence of 15-years.