News / Europe

    Russia Reduces Charges Against Greenpeace Activists

    Greenpeace activists hold portraits of those detained on the boat Arctic Sunrise, during a rally in Moscow, Oct. 18, 2013.
    Greenpeace activists hold portraits of those detained on the boat Arctic Sunrise, during a rally in Moscow, Oct. 18, 2013.
    Reuters
    Russia on Wednesday dropped piracy charges against 30 people involved in a Greenpeace protest against Arctic oil drilling, replacing them with lesser offenses and cutting the maximum jail sentence they face to seven years from 15 years.

    The charges against activists who protested at a Gazprom oil platform off Russia's northern coast last month have been changed from piracy to hooliganism, the federal Investigative Committee said in a statement.

    Greenpeace said the new charges were still “wildly disproportionate” and promised to contest them.

    All 30 people who were aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise during the Sept. 18 protest, in which activists tried to scale the Prirazlomnaya platform, are being held in detention in the northern Murmansk region until at least late November.

    The Investigative Committee said it had begun the procedure of pressing the new charges, which carry a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. The piracy charges were punishable by 10 to 15 years.

    Greenpeace said the hooliganism charge “represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest.”

    “This is still a wildly disproportionate charge that carries up to seven years in jail,” Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia said in a statement.

    “We will contest the trumped up charge of hooliganism as strongly as we contested the piracy allegations. They are both fantasy charges that bear no relation to reality,” he said.

    “The [activists] are no more hooligans than they were pirates,” he said, adding that they had “protested peacefully against Gazprom's dangerous oil drilling and should be free.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the activists were clearly not pirates but that they violated international law.

    More charges possible

    The Investigative Committee dismissed Greenpeace's claim that the protest was peaceful, saying “anyone who illegally and premeditatedly seizes ... a stationary platform is committing a crime, no matter what their motive.”

    The committee said the investigation was continuing, and it reiterated an earlier statement that it still could bring additional severe charges against some of the activists, including the use of force against representatives of the state.

    Courts in the Russian city of Murmansk have denied bail to the 30 people detained - 28 activists, including the crew of the Arctic Sunrise, and two freelance journalists who were documenting the protests.

    Those arrested include American, Argentinian, Australian, Brazilian, British, Canadian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, New Zealand, Swedish, Swiss, Polish, Russian, Turkish and Ukrainian citizens.

    Greenpeace has said the arrests and charges are meant to frighten off campaigners protesting against drilling in the Arctic, a region Putin describes as crucial to Russia's economic future and its security.

    Moscow says the environmental protesters violated a security zone around Prirazlomnaya, which is Russia's first offshore oil platform in the Arctic, which is scheduled to begin production by the end of the year after delays.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora