September 28, 2013 by AK
It’s not piracy under Russian law. The platform is not a ship and the activists weren’t after Gazprom’s property.
See the criminal code of the Russian Federation, Article 227, “Piracy”: “An attack on a sea or river vessel with the purpose of gaining possession of [someone else’s – чужим] property using violence or a threat of violence…”
Prosecutors can always find a cop or security guard to perjure himself on the stand – as they often do at trials of anti-Putin protesters – and say some 60-pound Green lady hit his cropped cranium with her flowery umbrella. But they can’t turn the platform into a yacht and the Greenpeaceniks into highway robbers.
And then there’s international law. As Prof. Kontorovitch of the Northwestern University explains, it also considers offshore platforms to be non-vessels. (A commenter says semi-submersible rigs are treated as vessels and jack-up rigs are considered non-vessels in US maritime law. That’s amusing since jack-ups are eminently movable – they are supposed to be drilling, not producing.) In any case, the (in)famous Prirazlomnaya platform, which took a dozen (!) years to build and cost $3 bln or more is not a vessel. It’s standing on its own thick legs in shallow 20-meter water 55 km offshore. It follows that Russia is not justified in seizing Greenpeace’s Arctic Star since this is allowed only in cases of piracy.