MOSCOW, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Russian Investigative Committee ( IC) said Monday it was preparing charges against a group of environmentalists from the Greenpeace organization who illegally landed and attempted to protest at a sea oil platform in the country's territorial waters.
"North-Western department of the IC has set up a group which will interrogate witnesses and suspects, and carry out a large volume of expert tests," the federal anti-crime body said on its website.
Charges against the crew and other people onboard the Arctic Sunrise ship belonging to Greenpeace will be filed "shortly," it said.
The equipment and documents seized from the vessel will be sent to experts for review to determine the purposes of their use.
"In the absence of the suspects' testimonies, the investigators will define the circumstances and objectives they pursued while attacking the platform," the committee said.
Thirty environmentalists from 19 countries were detained on Sept. 18-19 while they were attempting to stage a protest against oil extraction on the Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the northern Pechora Sea.
They will remain in custody for two months by a court ruling in the Russian city of Murmansk.
Meanwhile, a Greenpeace representative told Xinhua by phone that the ship's crew did not violate any Russian or international law.
"We understand that such actions bear risk of violation of national or international laws," head of Arctic programs in Greenpeace Russian bureau Vladimir Chuprov said. "But in the circumstances where there is no agreement between public opinion and authorities, the non-governmental organizations have a right to act on their own risk."
He believed that the maximum punishment the activists should face is a moderate fine, and only for those who left the ship, adding that the rest who remained onboard the Arctic Sunrise off 500-meter safety zone did not committed even minor offense.
Russia's Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin has called for leniency for the detained activists, saying, though their actions were "eccentric," the activists had "admirable and noble motives."
Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a speech at an Arctic forum last week, said the activists were not pirates and that Moscow intended to cooperate with all parties and environmental organizations "but this work should be civilized."
According to the IC, the Arctic Sunrise broke 500-meter safety perimeter of the Prirazlomnaya oil platform stationed in the exclusive Russian economic zone, ignoring warnings and orders to stop.
The environmentalists then approached the platform on several boats and attempted to climb the platform using special equipment. After the border guards approached the Greenpeace's boats, the activists have attempted to ram guards' boat.
"Investigators believe all these actions created threat to safety of the platform's workers and property as well as manifested counteractions to the law-enforcement personnel," it said.
These actions are criminally punishable no matter what their allegedly peaceful goals have been, the committee added.
A Moscow oil and gas expert said the Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund have jointly prepared a thorough risk-assessment review of the Prirazlomnaya project, and the actions of the Arctic Sunrise crew went too far.
"This action of Greenpeace cannot be justified with their noble intentions, as they attempted to break into a dangerous industrial site, putting at risk the very environmental safety they supposed to care of," Vasily Bogoyavlensky, deputy director of the Oil and Gas Institute in the Russian Academy of Science (RAN), told Xinhua in a phone interview.
The expert said the Gazprom, owner of Prirazlomnaya, has been well aware of risks of oil extraction in high seas and has taken all precautions to safeguard the production.
Gazprom and the Ministry for Emergency Situations organized a tour to Prirazlomnaya in August for experts from the Arctic Council member countries, he said.