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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs