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Greenpeace Activists Protest Gazprom At Basel Match

The Greenpeace icebreaker "Arctic Sunrise"
The Greenpeace icebreaker "Arctic Sunrise"
Campaigners supporting the environmental group Greenpeace have briefly disrupted a Champions League match in Switzerland in a protest against the Russian energy giant Gazprom, a sponsor of the game.

Four activists on October 1 abseiled from the roof of the stadium to the field in Basel and unfurled a banner that read: “Gazprom. Don’t Foul The Arctic.”

The activists then used their ropes to pull themselves back to the roof.

The protest halted the game between Basel and the German club Schalke for about five minutes. Gazprom is a leading sponsor of Schalke.

Thirty Greenpeace members who were aboard the “Arctic Sunrise” icebreaker were arrested by Russian authorities in September after some activists tried to scale a Gazprom offshore drilling platform in Arctic waters to protest the company's plans to extract oil from above the so-called ice line.

Russian authorities have threatened to prosecute them for piracy.

Greenpeace has collected hundreds of thousands of signatures on a global petition drive for their release.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Russian authorities to immediately release the 30 detainees, and called the threat of piracy charges "a grotesque distortion of the law."

Based on reporting by AP and AFP