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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid