Putin: What happened to the Arctic 30 should serve as a "lesson" to activists

Russia's prime minister also suggested that foreign rivals may have been behind the Greenpeace protests

Published December 19, 2013 5:26PM (EST)

Russia may have granted amnesty to the 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists arrested after a protest at a drilling platform in the Arctic, but President Vladimir Putin said he's planning to toughen his response to future attempts at interference with the country's oil exploration.

"This is a serious thing for us. And we do not plan to soften (our stance), we will only be toughening it," Putin said Thursday. He added that the amnesty law that ensures their release was not passed on behalf of the protesters. "We are not doing this for them," he said. "What happened must be a lesson and should, I hope, dispose us, with Greenpeace, to working positively together."

Apparently underestimating the activist group's commitment to fighting drilling in the Arctic, Putin also suggested that unnamed foreign rivals may have paid the Arctic 30 to stage the protest in order to undermine Russia's push to tap the region's energy resources. "Why was this (protest) carried out?" he said. "Either it was to put pressure on a company or on someone's orders interfere with Russia's offshore development."

By Lindsay Abrams

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Activism Arctic 30 Environmentalists Oil Drilling Putin