Greenpeace activists blocked a petrol station owned by Russian company Gazprom near the town of Blagoevgrad, in southwestern Bulgaria, on September 26, protesting against Gazprom’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic, but also to demand the release of 30 activists detained last week when they attempted to board a Russian oil rig in the Arctic, Bulgarian news agency BTA reported.
Several activists chained themselves to the petrol pumps, while others held banners that read “Gazprom = destruction of the Arctic” and “free our activists”, BTA said. The report did not say how many Greenpeace activists were involved in the protest, but said that they included nationals of six countries – Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Greenpeace Bulgaria campaign co-ordinator Denitsa Petrova was quoted as saying that Gazprom’s plans to being oil drilling in the Russian Arctic in 2014 raised serious environmental risks. She said that the protest outside Blagoevgrad was also in defence of the activists detained onboard Greenpeace’s ship Arctic Sunrise.
The ship has been towed to Murmansk and Russian prosecutors charged some activists with piracy, charges that can bring up to 15 years in jail. This news drew a protest petition signed by more than 40 international environmental groups, asking President Putin to release the boat and its crew – activists from 18 countries.
(Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. Photo taken in May 2013 in Valencia, Spain, by Chesnot Jérôme/flickr.com)