Russian Arrests Highlight Unreported Oil Pollution of the Arctic

"About 4 million barrels of spilled oil, as much as BP's Gulf of Mexico spill, is flowing into the Arctic Ocean every year, Greenpeace says."

"An environmental organization with a $350 million war chest, a giant protest vessel, 28 activists and a rubber raft have succeeded in drawing Russian President Vladimir V. Putin into a very public global dispute.

Attention is now focused on the Greenpeace activists -- who were arrested last month by Coast Guard agents for trying to hang a protest banner on an Arctic Ocean oil platform—and whether they will languish in prison for up to 15 years each on dubious piracy charges.

'They are obviously not pirates,' Putin said in a speech to the International Arctic Forum last month. Yet Russian authorities so far seem to be throwing the book at the activists as international outrage grows to secure their freedom. Protests have been held at Russian consulates in about a half dozen cities worldwide to release the activists.

While the unfolding drama is now focused on issues of civil disobedience and human rights, underneath the uproar is a tangle of issues around Arctic drilling that Greenpeace has been campaigning to address for many years. And now it has secured the world's attention and a chance to spark a discussion—and the stakes are high."

Zahra Hirji reports for InsideClimate News October 16, 2013.

Source: InsideClimate News, 10/16/2013