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Moscow (AFP) Sept 5, 2012
Russia on Wednesday charged 10 Greenpeace activists, some in polar bear costumes, after breaking up a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic outside the headquarters of energy giant Gazprom.
Activists in polar bear costumes tumbled in a pile of artificial snow and held up signs with slogans such as "Miller, your drilling is Arctic killer", addressed to Gazprom chief Alexei Miller.
Others chained themselves to a makeshift barrier in an attempt to block access to the headquarters, and put up a banner saying "Gazprom is killing the Arctic".
After around an hour on Wednesday morning, the police detained all 10 activists, Roman Dolgov, Greenpeace Russia's coordinator of the Arctic campaign, told AFP.
The activists, six Russians and four from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, were arrested and charged with breaching rules on holding protests and taken to a magistrate's court for hearings that continued late Wednesday evening.
Russian Greenpeace staff member Natalya Bystrova, 24, told AFP that she was first to go into court and had been fined 11,000 rubles ($341) for breaching protest rules as a participant.
"All the same we are going to continue talking and standing up for our opinions," she said.
Polish Greenpeace activist Piotr Dankowski, 31, who was next to be sentenced, told AFP that he was found guilty on the same charge and fined 10,000 rubles ($309).
"I think 10,000 rubles for trying to save the the Arctic is not such a high price," he said.
Greenpeace is carrying out a high-profile campaign against plans to drill for oil in the pristine Arctic that targets Gazprom as well as Western oil companies including Shell and Exxon.
The activists from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Russia blocked access outside Gazprom's offices for around an hour, shouting slogans such as "Save the Arctic!".
In August, its activists stormed Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya drilling platform in the remote Barents Sea, hanging on ropes off its sides for a day while being hosed with icy water and pelted with lumps of metal by rig workers.
A few days later on August 27, activists intercepted a Russian ship taking workers to begin drilling work to explore what is thought to be one of the world's largest untouched deposits of oil and natural gas.
"This is part of a global campaign to save the Arctic. Of course such events won't stop now. It's just one stage of the campaign. We will fight on using peaceful methods," Dolgov said.
Beyond the Ice Age
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