Russia has said it will boycott maritime court hearings sought by the Netherlands over the fate of 30 crew members of a Greenpeace ship who were detained during a protest against Arctic oil drilling

"The Russian side has informed the Netherlands and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea... that it does not intend to take part in the tribunal's hearings," the state-run RIA Novosti news agency quoted an unnamed Russian foreign ministry official as saying on Wednesday.

The Netherlands said on Monday it had taken Russia to the world's maritime court over the fate of the Dutch-flagged ship and its crew.

Russian authorities have charged the environmental group's members with piracy, which carries a 15-year sentence, after they staged an open-sea protest in September against oil drilling by the state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

The activists from 18 different countries have been placed in pre-trial detention until November 24th in the northern Russian region of Murmansk.

The Dutch government said it expected a hearing to be held within the next  two to three weeks before the Hamburg-based tribunal.

That legal action is the second step in the Dutch government's attempt to have the Greenpeace activists released.

The Netherlands has also started legal proceedings against Russia in the form of an arbitration process.

The Russian foreign ministry official told RIA Novosti that Moscow had also informed The Hague "it does not accept" rulings issued by the arbitration court because they may contradict Russia's federal laws.

Source: AFP