Finnish, Norwegian activists detained

Finnish and Norwegian environmental activists were detained in Apatity

Police detained 14 Finnish and Norwegian environmental activists in the Russian city of Apatity, Murmansk Oblast, on 6 August 2008, reported.

According to the Murmansk-based environmentalist organisation, Priroda i Molodyozh (Nature & Youth), the activists were taking part in protests against Russian gas giant Gazprom’s and Shtokman Development AG’s plan to build a gas pipeline through Khibiny Mountains near Apatity in the Kola Peninsula.

The gas pipeline will extend from Gazprom’s Shtokman field in the Barents Sea to the city of Volkhov. The environmental activists presented their demands for Khibiny Mountains to be declared a nature conversation area to the city administration of Apatity, Gazprom, and Shtokman Development AG.

The demonstration was sanctioned by the authorities. Nevertheless, the police detained the Finnish and Norwegian activists and handed them over to the Russian immigration authorities. Priroda i Molodyozh organised the protest together with the Finnish Nature League and Norway’s Natur og Ungdom.

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  1. Senni Luosujärvi, one of the Finnish participants in the demonstration in Apatity, said nobody was arrested during or after the event. She thinks the local immigration authorities simply wanted to clear up questions related to their visas, reported.

    – After the demonstration, which lasted for about an hour, we were asked to come talk things over. We went voluntarily, but had we not, I do think we would then probably have been arrested, Luosujärvi, member of the Finnish Nature League, said.

    The Russia coordinator of the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, Olli Turunen, confirmed that there was no real arrest, but that the activists had just a “friendly talk” with local immigration authorities.

    On the other hand, Vitaly Servetnik, member of Priroda & Molodyozh, said the 14 foreign activists who had taken part in the demonstration had really been taken to be heard by the immigration authorities.

    The authorities had first claimed that the foreigners had to have an entry in their visas authorising them to take part in public events. After a while, however, the authorities admitted they had made a mistake and let the activists go.

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