25 Nov 2013

Detained NZer says Russian prison conditions oppressive

8:21 am on 25 November 2013

A New Zealander who was among a group of Greenpeace members detained in Russia over an incident on an Arctic oil rig says the experience was unnerving and intimidating.

Russia has granted bail to all but one of the 30 Greenpeace personnel.

Jonathan Beauchamp and David Haussmann are part of the group. Mr Haussmann said a conviction for hooliganism can result in a prison sentence in Russia.

In August last year, three members of the Pussy Riot punk group were sentenced to two years in prison for hooliganism for performing a song critical of Vladimir Putin in a cathedral in Moscow.

Mr Haussmann was locked up 23 hours a day in a cell containing up to five inmates.

He said the conditions were oppressive, but he is now staying in a hotel in St Petersberg and is free to move around the city.

While he cannot yet leave Russia, he said he is determined to be back in New Zealand for the birth of his second child early next year and hopes he may return as early as Christmas.

The Arctic Sunrise was boarded by Coastguard officers after Greenpeace members scaled an oil platform in the Barents Sea on 18 September to protest against drilling by Gazprom. All those aboard were arrested and the icebreaker was towed to Murmansk.