Fifty days in hell: dispatches from Russia in the Arctic 30's own words
Saturday, 09 November 2013 20:00

How Greenpeace activists held in Russia have told the world their story through tweets and messages home

BREAKING: Helicopter hovering above Arctic Sunrise, rope dropping down. We think the Coast Guard is boarding us. #SaveTheArctic
@gp_sunrise 19 September

Russian authorities onboard with guns. They are breaking into the comms room now. #savethearctic
@gp_sunrise 19 September

Latest from the deck: Crew are sitting on their knees on the helipad with guns pointed at them. #Savethearctic
@gp_sunrise 19 September

This is pretty terrifying. Loud banging. Screaming in Russian. They're still trying to kick in the door. #savethearctic
@gp_sunrise 19 September

It's been over a month now that the "special forces" dropped by helicopter took over our ship at gunpoint. Quite a terrifying moment I must admit, surreal, out of an Action movie.
Alexandre Paul, 27 October to Greenpeace supporters

When we were taken off the ship to be arrested we were escorted by the coastguard ship and then by a bus. It felt like a scene from the cold war. It was dark. The bus was old and smelt of metal – I could taste it in my mouth. We were driven through a series of derelict buildings. There were more guards than there were of us. I was scared.
Alexandra Harris, 10 October to James Lorenz

The hardest moment was the first night in prison – none of us knew where we were or what conditions the detention held, or whether we would be separated, left to navigate the unknown alone. Being shown to my cell and introduced to a couple of strangers was frightening, to say the least.
Kieron Bryan, 27 October to Sunday Times

The only sky I can see is out of my cell window, which is placed in the northern wall of the building. This means no sun at all.
Marco Weber, 8 October to everyone

The cell is 8m long, 4m wide and 6m high. I spend 23 hours a day in here with nothing but the occasional book and my thoughts.
Bryan, 27 October to Sunday Times

It's very cold now. It snowed last night. The blizzard blew my very poorly insulated window open and I had to sleep wearing my hat. I have a radiator in my cell but it's the Arctic breeze that makes the place very cold. I heard that from December Murmansk is dark for six weeks. God, I hope I'm out by then.
Harris, 13 October to family

Once it was clear we weren't in physical danger you adapt to the regime and its severe limitations. Now, the difficulty is the silence and ignorance imposed by our detention – there isn't a moment I don't think about my family, how they're coping or what the world thinks of our situation.
Bryan, 27 October to Sunday Times

Life is settling down to a daily grind where the merest opening of the peep hole from outside causes a ripple of excitement from within. One of my cell mates has been transferred which means only one chain smoker.
Frank Hewetson, 8 October to Greenpeace UK

Being in prison is like slowly dying. You literally wish your life away and mark off the days. It's such a waste of two months and I really hope it's no longer.
Harris, 13 Oct to family

I spend a lot of time looking out through the window when the sun shines, it makes me think of all of you supporting us, it makes me happy and makes me smile. When it is snowing, I think about the Arctic, the sea ice, the beautiful nature up here, and it gives me strength, it gives this all a meaning.
Sini Saarela, 15 October to Greenpeace

We still manage to have a giggle, which is quite good under the circumstances. We all received this metal device to heat water – for days I thought it was curling tongs. When I complained to the girls that the support team could have sent me something more practical than curling tongs, they laughed so much.
Harris, 13 October to family

I dance every day in my cell and am already familiar to the Russian pop music. During our "walks" I jump around the concrete box and the guards laugh at me.
Saarela, 15 October to Greenpeace

I heard the Arctic Sunrise mentioned on the radio. It's great to know the world is talking about us. On a good day I get to see my lawyer. You wouldn't believe the difference the news makes. It really makes me feel better and I thank every single person who has joined a protest or sent an email. If there's one good thing to come of this horrible situation it's just that – the world is talking about Arctic oil and I've played a role in that. That's why the 30 of us are here.
Harris, 10 October to James Lorenz

Let's save the Arctic and with it also the chance of future for mankind. Your support and the knowledge that we have done the right thing keeps me above water.
Marco Weber, 8 October to everyone

I can't put it any more simply than "thanks". Some of you I know, some I've heard of, some I'll never even meet. Your kind thoughts, support and humor mean a lot to me right now, it is the simple things in life.
David Haussmann, 13 October, to everyone

I'm a different person now; stronger. I cry less, which is a good thing. And I'm so appreciative of life. I will not take anything for granted now.
Harris, 13th October to family

We need you. We need people to write to their governments, to the Russian embassies. Tell them this imprisonment is unfair and illegal. Inform yourself at your local Greenpeace offices and groups about upcoming protests/marches. Sign petitions and get your friends and family to sign them too. Greenpeace is only but a word, the people behind it, that is our strength. Always remember to do so in a peaceful way. We have nothing against Russia, as a matter of fact; we did this for them. And me, I'll do my part. I'll stay strong, I won't despair. I will keep the faith. For a better world.
Paul, 27 October, to Greenpeace supporters © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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