ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION

Activists in two motorboats sped past the Kremlin on the Moskva River in Moscow on Wednesday (November 6) waving flags and calling for the release of the "Arctic 30", a group of 28 activists and two journalists who were arrested in September following a protest at an oil drilling platform in the Arctic.

The 30 detainees, who are from 18 countries, have been charged with hooliganism for the Sept. 18 protest in which activists tried to scale Russia's first offshore Arctic oil rig.

Wednesday's protest came as the Netherlands took Russia to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg to secure the provisional release of the captives who have all been denied bail in a case that has strained relations with the West, particularly the Netherlands.

Two of the arrestees are Dutch, and the environmental group's boat, the Arctic Sunrise, was sailing under the Dutch flag.

Russia has told the court it does not accept the Netherlands' case and will not participate in the proceedings.

Russia's Investigative Committee, which is handling the case, reduced initial charges of piracy to hooliganism late last month, cutting the maximum jail term from 15 years to seven, after President Vladimir Putin said they were not pirates.

The case adds to strains between the two countries. Last month senior diplomats from each country were beaten in their respective homes in Moscow and The Hague.

 

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