MOSCOW (AP) — The Russian Coast Guard on Thursday violently stormed a Greenpeace ship protesting oil drilling in Russia's Arctic waters, the environmental group said.
The boarding of the Arctic Sunrise took place a day after two activists were arrested by the Coast Guard following an attempt to board an offshore drilling platform belonging to state natural gas company Gazprom, the group said in a statement.
About 15 armed men boarded the Arctic Sunrise, aggressively herding 29 activists, including the two activists arrested earlier, into one compartment. The vessel's captain was held separately on the bridge, Faiza Oulahsen, one of the activists aboard the vessel, said.
"They used violence against some of us, they were hitting people, kicking people down, pushing people," she said in a phone call from the ship. The Greenpeace ship is in the Pechora Sea, an arm of the Barents Sea.
Sergei Tsyplenkov, head of Greenpeace Russia, said in a statement that the Coast Guard "effectively seized the ship," arguing that they had no legal grounds to do so. The Coast Guard is part of the Federal Security Service, the main KGB successor agency. Its local branch for the Arctic Murmansk region said in a statement carried by the Interfax news agency that its personnel boarded the ship using helicopters. It said that the vessel will be brought to the port of Murmansk following a search.
A spokesman for the Federal Security Service in Moscow refused to comment.