News / Europe

Russia: Greenpeace Activists to Face Additional Charges

FILE - Greenpeace activists hold portraits of those detained on the boat Arctic Sunrise during a rally in Moscow, Russia.
FILE - Greenpeace activists hold portraits of those detained on the boat Arctic Sunrise during a rally in Moscow, Russia.
Reuters
Russian is to press additional charges against several Greenpeace activists who were arrested for a protest at the country's first offshore Arctic oil rig, investigators said on Thursday.
 
Russia has drawn international criticism over the arrest and subsequent treatment of the 30 people on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise when activists tried to scale the Gazprom-owned Prirazlomnaya oil platform.
 
Russian investigators initially charged all 30 with piracy but said last month they were changing the charge to hooliganism, cutting the maximum jail sentence they face to seven years from 15 years.
 
But Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for a state investigative team which reports directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said some of the activists, in addition to being charged with hooliganism, will face charges of resisting law officers, which would carry a maximum five year-prison sentence.
 
“A few boats approached the platform, and with the aid of special equipment, they tried to climb up the platform. They completely ignored the authorities' orders. Furthermore, if you recall, they rammed the coastguard ship,” Markin said in an interview on Internet news site gazeta.ru.
 
Greenpeace has always said its protest was entirely peaceful.
 
Markin's comments came after British Prime Minister David Cameron gave an interview on Thursday urging Putin to help free the Greenpeace activists, saying the action taken against them was “excessive”.
 
Cameron said he welcomed a decision to reduce the charges against the protesters to hooliganism from piracy, but still felt the action went too far.
 
“They are not hooligans, they are protesters,” Cameron told BBC local radio, according to a transcript released by his spokesman.
 
“I totally understand that countries have to have some quite tough rules to stop people invading oil platforms, but I have appealed to Vladimir Putin to try to de-escalate this and make sure that these people can go home.”

Rights violated
 
Russian authorities have held the 28 activists and two freelance journalists, as well as the Dutch-registered Arctic Sunrise, in the Arctic city of Murmansk.
 
Greenpeace said last week officials were preparing to move the prisoners to St Petersburg where they have more chance of being visited by family and lawyers after well over a month in jail.
 
The Netherlands has asked the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg to order Russia to release the ship and all those detained.
 
Russia has said it does not recognize the case, accusing the activists and their ship of posing a security threat.
 
A Dutch government representative said Russia had “violated the human rights” of the activists who tried to climb onto Russia's first offshore Arctic oil rig in September, detaining them for seven weeks “without grounds”.
 
After the protest, Russian coastguard officers boarded and seized control of the ship and towed it to Murmansk. Russia has rejected Greenpeace's assertions that the ship had been in international waters when it was seized.
 
Strains between the Netherlands and Russia over the Greenpeace protest are in danger of overshadowing the arrival of Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima to Moscow on Friday to mark 400 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
 
Greenpeace activists said their protest was aimed at raising awareness about the risks that Arctic offshore oil drilling posed to thousands of kilometers of coastal areas.
 
The head of Greenpeace Kumi Naidoo offered on Wednesday to move to Russia and stand as security for the release on bail of the 30.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs