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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs