MILAN Oct 17 Russian energy company Gazprom
on Thursday rebuffed an appeal by the head of Italian
oil firm Eni to intervene
in the case of an Italian activist who was arrested by Russian
authorities on piracy charges.
A group of environmentalists, including Italian Cristian
D'Alessandro, were arrested on charges of piracy over a
Greenpeace protest at an Arctic drilling platform last month.
Eni Chief Executive Paolo Scaroni wrote a letter to Gazprom
CEO Alexey Miller on Wednesday asking him to use his standing to
appeal for clemency for D'Alessandro. Eni is Gazprom's biggest
"Mr Scaroni is knocking on the wrong door. Gazprom is a
private company and as such has no means and no right to
influence Russia's legal system," Gazprom spokesman Sergey
The piracy charges, punishable by up to 15 years' jail,
appear aimed at sending a message that Moscow will not tolerate
attempts to disrupt its development of the resource-rich Arctic.
In his letter Scaroni acknowledged Gazprom had no role in
"However - given your great standing - an appeal for
clemency on your part may benefit those imprisoned and would
support the energy industry in establishing a transparent and
constructive dialogue with all stakeholders," he said.
State-controlled Eni has a strategic alliance with Gazprom
which supplies Italian consumers with about 30 percent of their
natural gas needs.
"It's a very unusual move and probably a lot of political
pressure was brought to bear. Eni has a lot of interest with
Gazprom and must tread warily," a Milan oil analyst said, asking
not to be named.
On Wednesday three Italian members of parliament from
centre-left parties thanked Scaroni for his gesture.
Greenpeace has said the protest at the rig owned by
state-controlled Gazprom was peaceful and calls the piracy
charges absurd and unfounded.
Also on Thursday eleven Nobel Peace Prize laureates urged
Russian President Vladimir Putin to drop the piracy charges
against the 30 people detained.
(Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Angus MacSwan)