The Netherlands filed a complaint against Russia on Friday in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea [official website] alleging that the country has unlawfully detained Greenpeace [advocacy website] activists it apprehended from a Dutch-registered ship. Specifically, the Netherlands have challenged [Al Jazeera report] the manner in which the ship was apprehended and asked for the release of all of the 30 activists who were detained. Protesters gathered [Reuters report] in Russia on Saturday following the Netherlands' filing of its suit to support the country's efforts and demand release of the activists. The Russian government has shown no indication that it will release the detainees and plans to defend the charges [PressTV report] it brought against them, taking the position that that the activists' alleged actions were illegal and that it has requested in the past that the Netherlands government put a stop to these types of protests.
The activists, two of whom are Dutch citizens, were detained by Russia last month when they attempted to board an oil rig in protest of Russia's oil drilling practices and were all charged with piracy [CNN report] last week. The charges have drawn criticism from rights groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website, press release] as well as other countries. During the plenary session of the Third International Arctic Forum held in Salekhard last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website, in Russian; JURIST news archive] acknowledged [RT report] that the activists were not pirates, but noted that their actions in trying to take over the Prirazlomnaya were a violation of international law which could have resulted in an oil spill or other dangers to public lives and health. Putin further stated that Greenpeace members could have attended the Arctic Forum and voiced their concerns at that time.