Canada presses Russia on Greenpeace detentions

Published September 26, 2013

| AFP

Canadian consular officials are pressing Russia for answers about the detention of two Canadians among 30 activists held for protesting oil drilling in the Arctic, officials said Thursday.

"Consular services are being provided to the two Canadian citizens," foreign ministry spokeswoman Beatrice Fenelon told AFP.

Canadian officials are also "seeking further information about the detentions from local Russian authorities," she added.

Russian border guards took control of the Dutch-flagged Greenpeace protest ship Arctic Sunrise and locked up the activists on Tuesday after they attempted to scale state energy giant Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya oil platform in protest over exploration in the Barents Sea.

The border guards fired warning shots and detained two activists under armed guard, according to Greenpeace.

After sliding down ropes from helicopters, the guards seized the vessel then towed the ship to the port of Murmansk, where the activists were held for questioning.

On Thursday, a Russian court ordered several of the activists detained for two months for alleged piracy, including Paul Ruzycki from Canada, and was expected to rule on the others soon.

The captain of the ship, US citizen Peter Willcox, was also given the same term. The veteran activist captained Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior ship when it was bombed by French agents in 1985.

Greenpeace said another Canadian, Alexandre Paul, was also being detained pending a court appearance in the northern port city.

The non-governmental group's Canadian office said it has requested a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird but has not heard back.

Baird has pointed to Greenpeace's past "provocative actions on the high seas."

"Obviously, it needs to follow all the specific rules and regulations with respect to navigation," he added.

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