Briefs from Svalbardposten for the week of Sept. 8, 2015

barentsburghotelcamera

Are people being illegally spied on in Barentsburg?  
The discovery of several possibly illegal security cameras in Barentsburg has prompted The Governor of Svalbard to request an investigation by The Norwegian Data Protection Authority. “We want them to assess whether this is happening in a legal manner,” said Magnus Rognhaug, a legal advisor to the governor. “We have no direct information that they are contrary to the rules, but we are presuming that.” Two cameras were found by officials from the governor’s office in the restaurant area of the Barentsburg Hotel, cameras were mounted on all four corners of building linked to the settlements’s satellite operations, and a camera and audio recording equipment was found in a conference room at the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. The governor’s office, in a letter to the security agency, states “we assume there are more cameras.” Norwegian law forbids such cameras in areas where people typically congregate except in limited cases related to crime or safety protection. Trust Artikugol, the Russian state-owned company that oversees the settlement, has not responded to inquiries about the cameras.

Men hospitalized in knife fight aboard Russian trawler
A man was arrested following a knife fight aboard a Russian trawler in Bellsund  on Monday that resulted in both men participating being hospitalized, according to The Governor of Svalbard. Both men have since been released from the hospital and the arrested man was released because self-defense could not be ruled out.

First zodiac around Spitsbergen? No
A group that was reportedly the first to circumnavigate Spitsbergen in a zodiac this summer actually has a predecessor. This year’s group from Poland was led by Ryszard Siwecki, 63, who was fulfilling a lifelong dream after visiting the archipelago 40 years ago by studying amphipods and climate change during the boat trip. But it turns out a 2004 article in Hopen Times reported Joel Bark Garden and Karl Erik Wilhelmsen completed the same voyage. Svalbardposten is now asking if any other such trips are known.