Russia dismisses Netherlands court award over Greenpeace ship

Russia dismisses Netherlands court award over Greenpeace ship

Moscow (AFP) - Russia on Thursday dismissed an international court ruling it must pay the Netherlands 5.4 million euros ($6.25 million) for the 2013 seizure of Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise ship.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague on Tuesday ordered Moscow to pay damages over the incident, which saw 30 activists and journalists detained in an armed raid by Russian security officials after a protest against oil drilling.

"Russia did not take part in the proceedings because it took the view and still does that the Arbitration Court does not have jurisdiction in this case," foreign ministry spokesman Artyom Kozhin said in a statement.

Kozhin complained that the verdict did not take into account that Greenpeace activists "created a direct threat to the safety of an oil rig" and argued Russia took lawful measures to stop dangerous unlawful behaviour.

He said the verdict "encourages unlawful actions" in the waters of other countries that are "justified as so-called 'peaceful' protest".

The sums include 1.69 million euros for damage to the Dutch-flagged Arctic Sunrise and 2.46 million euros for "the material damage" suffered by those detained.

The court made the awards after ruling in 2015 that Russia was obliged to compensate the Netherlands over the seizure of the Dutch-flagged ship.

Russian security forces seized the Arctic Sunrise in September 2013 and detained those on board after a protest at an offshore oil rig owned by Russian state giant Gazprom in the Pechora Sea inside the Arctic Circle.

Authorities held the Greenpeace activists in jail for two months before releasing them on bail and eventually closing their cases under a Kremlin-backed amnesty.

Russia only returned the ship nine months after it was seized, with Greenpeace saying equipment including navigation and communication aids had disappeared or been damaged.

Greenpeace earlier praised the ruling, saying it "emphatically upholds international law and the right to peaceful protest".

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said it "makes it clear that ships in international waters cannot be boarded just like that and that the people on board cannot be arrested".

Greenpeace opposes drilling for oil in the Arctic, which Russia's Gazprom has already begun doing, due to the potential impact of an oil spill on the ecosystem.

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