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Greenpeace 'Arctic 30' arrive in St. Petersburg

Greenpeace 'Arctic 30' arrive in St. Petersburg
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All 30 people arrested in Russia after a Greenpeace protest have arrived in St. Petersburg – their new place of detention – after weeks behind bars in the isolated Arctic port of Murmansk.

Amid fears of overcrowding and poor prison conditions in Russia’s second-largest city, supporters believe the transfer could see circumstances worsen for the so-called Arctic 30.

Officially, they had to make the 1,000 kilometre trip to be nearer the appropriate court.

Raising concerns for their wellbeing, Mikhail Kreindlin of Greenpeace Russia said: “We are worried about the conditions. It is very unlikely that they will be placed in solitary cells. They could be placed in cells with other inmates.”

Moving the 28 activists and two journalists to a more accessible city could however be aimed at curbing international criticism of Russia over what Greenpeace says was a peaceful protest in September.

Those held, from 18 different countries, were arrested when coastguards boarded their ship after a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic at a platform owned by Russia’s state-controlled firm Gazprom.

Initially accused of piracy, they now face hooliganism charges punishable by up to seven years in jail.