Greenpeace activists have been charged with piracy in a Moscow court after protesting against Russian oil drilling in the Arctic.
They could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
A Greenpeace ship and international crew of 30 were seized a fortnight ago after two activists tried to scale the Prirazlomnaya
offshore oil platform owned by Russian state-controlled firm Gazprom.
Greenpeace says the protest was peaceful and the charges are “absurd.”
More activists are expected to be charged on Thursday and Friday.
Demonstrations in support of the Greenpeace members have been taking place around the world. In Germany there were sit-ins at Gazprom-run petrol stations.
At the Champions league match between Basel and Schalke, which is sponsored by Gazprom, activists unfurled a banner saying “Gazprom, don’t foul the Arctic.”
Environmentalists warn that drilling in the Arctic puts the fragile ecosystem there at risk and could lead to a full-scale oil disaster.
Russia’s first offshore oil rig in the Arctic is expected to start operating by the end of the year.
Oil companies, including ExxonMobil, Eni and Statoil, have already agreed deals with Russia’s state-owned company Rosneft to enter Russia’s Arctic offshore waters.
Russia also plans to reopen a Soviet-era military base on an Arctic island.