Greenpeace activists have been appearing in a Russian court for staging a protest at the country’s first offshore oil platform in the Arctic.
The hearing in Murmansk in Russia’s northwest is to decide whether the 30 activists, from 18 different countries, should remain in pre-trial detention.
Among the first rulings, two Russians in the group have been remanded in custody for two months. It comes amid reports that a criminal case for piracy has been opened. If convicted, activists could face 15 years in jail.
Their ship was seized and the arrests made after two activists tried to scale the rig to protest at plans to drill for oil which Greenpeace says would threaten the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that the protesters had violated international law but he signalled that they should not face piracy charges.