MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that 30 Greenpeace activists arrested in Russia over their open-sea protest in the Arctic were not "pirates" but they did break the law.
"I do not know the details of what has happened but it's completely obvious that of course they are not pirates," Putin told an international Arctic forum in the far northern city of Salekhard in televised remarks.
But he said that: "It's completely obvious these people violated the norms of international law," saying that the activists had "come dangerously close to the platform."
Putin said that it was not immediately clear to Russian officials at the time that those storming the platform really were ecological campaigners from Greenpeace.
"Our law enforcement agencies, our border guards did not know who was trying to seize the platform under the guise of Greenpeace," he said.
He added that the siege of a shopping centre in Kenya heightened fears.
"And against the background of the bloody events that happened in Kenya, anything could happen after all," he said.
The Greenpeace incident happened before the Kenyan siege began, however.
Greenpeace activists tried to storm the platform a week ago on Wednesday and their ship was taken over by border guards the next day. The siege of a Nairobi shopping centre by Islamist militants began on Saturday.