The Soviet coast guard fired warning shots at a Greenpeace ship Monday, detained the vessel carrying anti-nuclear activists and accused it of violating the Soviet border.
The conflict occurred after the Greenpeace ship sailed into Soviet waters in the Barents Sea to protest scheduled detonations at a Soviet nuclear test site north of the Arctic Circle.A Greenpeace representative in Copenhagen said that Andrei Zolotkov, a member of the USSR Congress of People's Deputies, and several local politicians and Soviet journalists were aboard the environmental group's ship when it was detained by the Coast Guard.
The Soviet news agency Tass quoted the KGB intelligence agency as saying the Greenpeace vessel was detained "for deliberate violation of the state border of the USSR, failure to obey border authorities, landing at unpermitted places and an attempt to enter an area closed to navigation."
The vessel was flying Dutch flags when it was detained off the Novaya Zemlya Islands.
"In order to detain the Greenpeace ship, border guards had to fire warning shots," the KGB said. "The ship will soon be escorted to the Kola Gulf, where an inquiry will take place."
Steve Shallhorn, the protest voyage's coordinator and one of 28 activists on the vessel, said by ship-to-shore telephone that the Coast Guard officials told the ship to leave the area several times before boarding it.
"After three hours of playing cat and mouse, they threatened to open fire on our vessel, so we stopped," said Shallhorn.