News / Europe

Putin Signals Lighter Charges For Greenpeace Arctic Protests

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson during the International Arctic Forum in Salekhard, a city 1,950 km northeast of Moscow just above the Arctic Circle, Russia, Sept. 25, 2013. Photo: Vera Undritz/VOA
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson during the International Arctic Forum in Salekhard, a city 1,950 km northeast of Moscow just above the Arctic Circle, Russia, Sept. 25, 2013. Photo: Vera Undritz/VOA
James Brooke
Facing international outcry over the jailing of 30 Greenpeace activists in the Russian Arctic, President Vladimir Putin sent a signal to prosecutors for leniency.

“It is obvious they’re not pirates,” he said Wednesday at an Arctic conference in Salekhard. “However, formally, they tried to seize our platform.”

Salekhard is 500 kilometers southeast of  the Pechora Sea, where Greenpeace activists tried last week to board Russia’s only offshore oil production platform in the Arctic.

Russian Border Police intervened, arresting 30 activists and towing their boat, the Arctic Sunrise, to Murmansk. On Tuesday, Russian prosecutors said they were investigating, charging many of the activists with piracy, charges that can bring up to 15 years in jail.

This news drew a protest petition signed by more than 40 international environmental groups, asking President Putin to release the boat and its crew - activists from 18 countries.

Greenpeace representatives did not attend the Arctic Dialogue conference Wednesday. Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo denounced the piracy charges as “absurd.”

“We welcome President Putin’s recognition that our activists are clearly not pirates, and acted purely out of concern for the Arctic environment,” he said in a statement. “Our climbers attempted to attach themselves to the side of the platform to raise attention to the threat of Arctic oil drilling in this fragile environment, and the urgent need to deal with climate change.”

Last year, Greenpeace activists boarded the same rig and hoisted a protest banner.
At the Arctic conference, President Putin warned of the dangers of this kind of activism.

“They created circumstances that threatened health and lives,” he told the Arctic conference. “Are such PR actions worth the possibility of such severe consequences?"

Agreement came from other Russians at the conference, largely government officials or political supporters.

“Greenpeace’s actions were just to create a political scandal and draw more attention to Greenpeace,” said Mikhail Slipenchuk, a Duma deputy from the ruling United Russia party. “They probably need more money and to get new sponsors because their money is running out.”

Lawson Brigham, a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain, said that boarding an offshore oil rig would be prosecuted in the United States.

“It’s a very dangerous operation they’re trying to perform offshore - cold water, extreme environment - they are risking their lives,” he said.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More