News / Europe

Greenpeace Crackdown Part of Moscow’s Arctic Cold War?

Crackdown on Greenpeace Part of Wider Control in Russian Arctici
September 30, 2013 11:01 PM
Russia's jailing of Greenpeace activists is drawing attention to the Russian Arctic. James Brooke reports from Salekhard, the Russian city closest to the Greenpeace protest.
James Brooke
Icy blasts of water greeted Greenpeace protesters climbing Russia’s lone offshore oil platform in the Arctic.
Then, Russian police fired warning shots.
And then arrested 30 activists.Today, 28 Greenpeace activists and 2 journalists from the ship are serving 2 months detention terms in Murmansk, where their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, also is impounded.
Greenpeace Russia lawyer Anton Beneslavski says last year there were no legal penalties after Greenpeace boarded the same platform and unfurled a protest banner.
He said that last year, border police never reacted. This year, police are accusing Greenpeace of piracy.
But Russia is increasingly flexing its muscles in its vast Arctic region.
In September, Russia’s only nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser led a flotilla to the Novosibirsk Islands, where Russian soldiers reopened a military base that had been closed 20 years ago.
As Arctic ice melts more, the base will check on ships passing in summer.
Last summer, China’s first icebreaker, the Snow Dragon, made the Arctic passage. This summer, the first Chinese freighter passed over the top of Russia.
Last May, at a meeting in Sweden, the Arctic Council admitted China as an observer.
That meeting also drew Greenpeace protesters. They called for a ban on drilling and mining in the fragile Arctic environment.
Recently, at  Salekhard, a Russian city on the Arctic Circle, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke at an Arctic Forum. He rejected Greepeace's protest tactics.
He said: "They are obviously not pirates, but formally, they did attempt to board the platform.”
After Putin spoke, Vera Orlova of the Russia Geographical Society told foreign reporters that their permits to visit the Russian Arctic had expired.
She said that it was an absolutely normal procedure for reporters to receive permits to visit Salekhard for only the two days of the conference.
No other nation restricts visits to its Arctic cities. But Putin’s Russia is taking the road of more and more government controls.

  • Salekhard, population 45,000, is the world's only city that straddles the Arctic Circle. This roadside monument marks this line that crossses the tundra. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Modern Salekhard has been built by Russia’ state gas giant Gazprom as a center for one of the richest oil and gas regions in the world. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Bright colors seek to cheer up residents in a city where snow falls in September and there are only two hours of daylight each day during December. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • There as many as half a million reindeer in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Region, the world center for raising reindeer. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Nenets people cherish their traditions, which have survived 70 years of Soviet communism and two decades of Russian consumerism. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Nenets carve souvenirs from walrus tusks. Tourism is limited because Russian authorities now demand additional permits to visit the city, a three hour flight from Moscow. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Cossacks founded the city in 1598 on the eastern bank of it the River Ob, which flows north to the Arctic. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • Brightly colored tower beckons are seen in Salekhard. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • The road to the airport is decorated with static displays of airplanes and helicopters that pioneered polar aviation in the 20th century. (V. Undritz for VOA)
  • An old locomotive is a reminder of the period, from the 1930s to 1950s, when Salekhard was a gulag town. Thousands of prisoners died constructing what later became known as “The Railroad of Death”. (V. Undritz for VOA)

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
September 30, 2013 10:16 PM
Eventhough the arctic circle belongs to no specific countries, the sea within the 200 miles should be recognized as Russinan arctic region. So, if the performance was done by peaceboat within it, they sould bring passport with them.

I guess performances conducted by peaceboat have been generally speaking radical and illeagal. They should rethink about measures to claim to be adapted to the code conducts of international laws, or they could not get major supports from others however right their claims may be. Thank you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs