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

In China, Mixed Signals on Ebola Controls

How authorities are monitoring at-risk individuals remains unclear, including whether there are quarantines for Chinese health workers returning from West Africa More

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Electionsi
X
October 31, 2014 4:10 AM
Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Women Voters Anxious Ahead of US Elections

Public opinion polls show American voters are deeply dissatisfied with their government and anxious about threats from abroad. This is especially true for a key voting group both Republicans and Democrats are trying hard to win over: women. Analysts say if women are focused on national security, it could be bad news for Democrats, with majority control of the Senate at stake. VOA’s Cindy Saine looks at the crucial role women voters will play in deciding the elections.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid