News / Europe

Russian Court Grants Bail to Greenpeace Protester

Yekaterina Zaspa, one of the 30 people who were arrested over a Greenpeace protest at the Prirazlomnaya oil rig, looks out from a defendants' cage as she attends a court session in St. Petersburg, Nov. 18, 2013.
Yekaterina Zaspa, one of the 30 people who were arrested over a Greenpeace protest at the Prirazlomnaya oil rig, looks out from a defendants' cage as she attends a court session in St. Petersburg, Nov. 18, 2013.
Reuters
A Russian medic among 30 people seized by Russian coastguards during a Greenpeace protest against offshore Arctic oil drilling was granted bail on Monday, signaling some leniency was possible in a case that has drawn criticism abroad.
 
But earlier on Monday, a separate court denied bail to another arrestee in the case, Colin Russell of Australia. He had served as a radio operator on Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, that launched the action.
 
The 30 face up to seven years in jail if convicted of hooliganism for the September protest, in which activists tried to scale an offshore oil rig that is crucial to Russia's drive to tap the Arctic's energy resources.
 
The court ruled that Yekaterina Zaspa, a Russian who served as a medic on the Arctic Sunrise but was not among those who tried to climb the Prirazlomnaya rig, could be released on 2 million roubles ($61,300) bail.
 
Courts have repeatedly denied previous bail requests from all 30 people held, and their current term of custody ends on Nov. 24. But the judge at Zaspa's hearing said there were no grounds to extend her arrest for another three months.
 
Zaspa, 37, smiled as she listened to the ruling from a cage in the courtroom. She made no comment as guards led her out.
 
It was not immediately clear why the courts ruled to release Zaspa on bail but to extend the term of custody for Russell, who also did not attempt to scale the rig.
 
“I'm here to defend my innocence. I have not committed a crime,” said Russell, who was led into court in handcuffs and confined to a barred defendant's cage. “I have not lifted a hand in angry manner ever in my life. I have never been violent.”
 
Mixed rulings
 
Rulings in custody hearings for two of the other 28 arrestees were expected later on Monday.
 
“This is of course positive news, but this does not mean Yekaterina's ordeal is in any way over,” Greenpeace representative Mads Christensen said in a statement, noting that she is still charged and could face years in prison.
 
“And of course our beloved friend and colleague Colin did not get bail and is being sent back to a Russian prison cell for a further three months,” he said.
 
Russian coastguards forcibly boarded the Arctic Sunrise following the protest.
 
Greenpeace, which says the protest was peaceful and the charges are unfounded, has been voicing alarm over the rush for the Arctic's energy resources, which the group says threatens the region's pristine and unique environment.
 
It hopes the release of the 30, who represent 18 different nationalities, could be secured on Friday when the Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is expected to rule in a case the Netherlands lodged against Russia.
 
But Russia has refused to take part in the case, suggesting it may not adhere to the court's ruling.
 
The 30 arrestees had initially been charged with piracy, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. President Vladimir Putin has said they were clearly not pirates but that they violated the law.
 
Western leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed concern to Putin over the case and Western celebrities have voiced support for the activists. Ex-Beatle Paul McCartney has asked Putin to help secure their release.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More