'Arctic 30' arrive in St Petersburg
Published 12/11/2013 | 11:31
Thirty people arrested following a Greenpeace protest at an Arctic oil rig have been transferred to St Petersburg, Russian officials confirmed.
Svetlana Peskovskaya of the Ministry of Interior's Transport Administration confirmed the 28 activists, a Russian photographer and a British video journalist had arrived from the northern Russian city of Murmansk in a sealed train wagon.
The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise was seized by the Russian coast guard after activists staged a protest outside the oil rig belonging to Russia's Gazprom state energy giant on September 18.
In the midst of international pressure, Russia dropped piracy charges and the 30 are now charged with hooliganism.
While Russia has not given an official reason for the transfer, it comes after widespread international protests over the arrests.
St Petersburg is a more accessible destination for the activists' lawyers and family members than Murmansk, a far-flung city north of the Arctic Circle that gets little light during its long winter.
Greenpeace International Arctic campaigner Ben Ayliffe said in a statement that the organisation did not know which pre-detention centre the activists would be taken to in St Petersburg.
Hooliganism carries a maximum sentence of seven years.
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