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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Video Scientists Say We Need Softer Robots

Today’s robots are mostly hard, rigid machines, with sharp edges and forceful movements, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University say they should be softer and therefore safer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs