Defying Russian ban, Greenpeace ship heads for Arctic

Wearing a costume of polar bear a Greenpeace activist takes part in a staged show on the Moskva River in front of the Kremlin in Moscow on April 1, 2013.

Moscow, Aug 22 (EFE) - The Greenpeace icebreaker Arctic Sunrise remains on course for the Arctic Kara Sea despite Russia's refusal to let the ship enter the Moscow-controlled Northern Sea Route, the environmental group's Russia branch said Thursday.

"The ship is headed for Novaya Zemlya (an archipelago in the Russia Arctic)," Greenpeace spokeswoman Maria Favorskaya told Efe, calling Russia's denial of access to the Northern Sea Route "baseless."

Greenpeace Russia says it has submitted four requests to enter the route so it can monitor oil and gas exploration in Arctic waters.

The Northern Sea Route authority has rejected the applications on technical grounds that Greenpeace claims are specious.

Russian state oil giant Rosneft is taking the lead on exploration in Russia's Arctic zone, but Western majors such as ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell are also involved, mainly as partners of local firms.

Moscow doesn't want Greenpeace publicizing the potential environmental damage from oil and gas activity in the Arctic, Favorskaya said.

"Technologies which guarantee 100 percent that seismic exploration in the Arctic don't harm its ecosystem do not exist," she said.

The signals emitted by the oil companies seismic probes are already having adverse effects on the region's animal population, according to Greenpeace.