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Greenpeace ship seized by Russia in 2013 heads home to Netherlands

In this photo made available by the Greenpeace International on Friday, Aug. 1, 2014, the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise departs from Murmansk, Russia after it was held in the port by Russian authorities for eleven months.


The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise departed for the Netherlands on Friday nearly a year after Russian authorities seized it during a protest against an oil platform, the Amsterdam-based environmental group said.

The Arctic Sunrise left the northern Russian port city of Murmansk and was headed to Amsterdam, Greenpeace International said.

The ship was seized by Russian authorities in September, 2013, during a protest against the offshore oil platform, and the 30 people on board were arrested, including two Canadians. Greenpeace opposes the location of the platform within the Arctic Circle.

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The crew and journalists were initially charged with piracy and were held in Russian prisons for months after their arrest near the Prirazlomnaya platform. The activists arrested included two Canadians, Alexandre Paul and Paul Ruzycki.

The charges were later downgraded to hooliganism and they were eventually released shortly before the Sochi Olympics.

Russian authorities notified Greenpeace in early June the ship was to be released, and captain Daniel Rizzotti was allowed onboard on June 27. He said it was in need of repairs.

"An icebreaker like the Arctic Sunrise normally needs daily maintenance," but had been left unattended after its seizure, he said. "In addition, the navigation, communication and safety equipment had been stripped or destroyed."

His crew spent July making necessary repairs.

Greenpeace said the ship will undergo further repairs after arriving in Amsterdam within several days and will then return to use in its campaign against Arctic drilling as soon as possible.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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