The story of the Greenpeace Arctic 30

When the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise set sail to protest the first ever oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, none of the people on board could have known what was coming.

Seized at gunpoint by Russian special forces, the ‘Arctic 30’ were thrust into headlines all over the world, facing up to 15 years in prison and finding themselves at the centre of a bitter international dispute.

A similar protest the previous year at the same oil platform had seen the Greenpeace activists walk away untouched. This time, the events that unfolded sent shockwaves across the world.

With the eyes of the world upon them, Russia charged the crew, from 18 different countries, with piracy and hooliganism. It was the most ruthless response from a national government against an NGO in a quarter of a century.

Their imprisonment, which saw worldwide media cast the Arctic 30 in the same mould as political prisoners like Pussy Riot and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, lasted months. However, their resolve to try and stop oil drilling in the Arctic was never broken.

The Arctic 30 story in pictures

  • September 17th 2013. The Arctic Sunrise outside the Prirazlomnaya 3 mile exclusion zone.

  • September 18th 2013. Five Greenpeace activists minutes before heading out to the Prirazlomnaya platform.

  • September 18th 2013. Activist Marco "Kruso" Weber (Switzerland) climbs the Prirazlomnaya platform.

  • September 18th 2013. A Russian federal security service (FSB) officer points a gun at a Greenpeace inflatable.

  • September 18th 2013. Threatening the activists with knives and guns, the Russian coast guard captures two of the Greenpeace climbers.

  • September 19th 2013. At sunset, an unidentified helicopter appears above the Arctic Sunrise which is sailing in international waters.

  • September 19th 2013. The ship is seized at gunpoint and cut off from all communication.

  • September 21st 2013. Unsure of what lies ahead, the Arctic Sunrise crew are gathered in the mess room as the ship is towed to Murmansk.

  • September 24th 2013. The Arctic Sunrise crew are brought to the offices of the Russian Investigative Committee in Murmansk.

  • September 26th 2013. All of the Arctic 30 are charged with piracy in a Murmansk court.

  • October 5th 2013. Protesters gather on Bondi Beach (Sydney) as part of a global day of solidarity for the Arctic 30.

  • A view over the SIZO N1 Detention Centre in Murmansk where the Arctic 30 were detained.

  • October 10th 2013. A Greenpeace support team delivers food and other items to the Murmansk prison holding the Arctic 30.

  • November 6th 2013. The Dutch government challenges Russia at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg.

  • November 11th 2013. The Arctic 30 are transported by train from Murmansk to St. Petersburg.

  • November 20th 2013. Dutch activist Faiza Oulahsen at her detention hearing in St. Petersburg.

  • November 18th 2013. Brazilian activist Ana Paula Maciel at her detention hearing in St. Petersburg.

  • November 21st 2013. Russian freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov is released on bail from Kresty prison in St. Petersburg.

  • November 29th 2013. Colin Russell is the last of the Arctic 30 to be released and receives a hug from captain Peter Willcox.

  • December 3rd 2013. Members of the Arctic 30 pose for a group shot in St. Petersburg, days after their release from prison.

  • December 26th 2013. Iain Rogers (UK), Gizem Akhan (Turkey) and Anne Mie Roer Jensen (Denmark) receive their Russian exit visa.

  • December 27th 2013. Greenpeace activist Dimitri Litvinov returns to Sweden.

  • September 8th 2014. After over 300 days of detention in Murmansk port, the Arctic Sunrise returns to its home port of Amsterdam.

Timeline of events

Meet the Arctic 30

"I've never regretted what I did, not once, not in prison and definitely not now. Sometimes you just have to stand up and ask to be counted, and that's what we did in the Arctic. They didn't throw us in jail for what we did, they locked us up because of what we stood for. The Arctic oil companies are scared of dissent, and they should be. They may have celebrated when our ship was seized, but our imprisonment has been a disaster for them. The movement to save the Arctic is marching now. Our freedom is the start of something, not the end. This is only the beginning."

- Dima Litvinov

Tap on their picture to get more info on each member of the Arctic 30.

Black Ice interactive features

Click to play the bonus features from the documentary.



A podcast about how one very passionate Russian photographer captured some of the most intrepid shots of the Arctic 30 story.



For enquiries regarding the documentary please email the producers at:


Director, Editor & Executive Producer: Maarten van Rouveroy van Nieuwaal Producers: Tom Lowe, Elaine Hill Camera: Maarten van Rouveroy van Nieuwaal, Kieron Bryan, Stephen Nugent, Igor Kim, Vladislav Zalevskiy, Ilia Butakov, Tom Lowe, Georgy Timofeev, Stephen Rychetnik, Matt Kemp, Antony Butts, Hernan Perez Aguirre, Anton Zhelonkin, Frits Meulenveld, Basil Tsimoyianis, Thomas Reinecke, Jasper Korff Graphic design & animations: Elaine Hill Re-recording mixer: Tom Bijnen Grading & online edit: Laurent Fluttert Featuring: Roman Dolgov, Christy Ferguson, Richard Harvey, Frank Hewetson, Denis Krivosheev, Dima Litvinov, Kumi Naidoo, Faiza Oulahsen, Paul Ruzycki, Sini Saarela, Rick Steiner, Peter Willcox Special thanks to: The Arctic 30, Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel, Ben Ayliffe, Daniel Bird, Carin Bazuin, Tulio Campregher, Maria Favorskaya, Gaynor Fawkes, Sol Gosetti, Matt Kemp, Helena Meresman, Edward Nazarski, André Nollkaemper, Joost Oskamp, Andreas Østhagen, Markus Power, Isabelle Philippe, Daniel Rizzotti, Fabien Rondal, Elena Sakirko, Patric Salize, Sune Scheller, Daniel Simons, Ben Stewart, Thomas Stocker, Mark Stucke, Sonka Terfehr, James Turner, Alexander Urzhanov, Eef Verkade Interactive platform design & development: Elaine Hill, ClickVid & Ana HristovaPrirazlomnaya in webGL: Matt DesLauriers and Ryan Bearsford-Walker