News / Europe

Russia Holds Activists Over Arctic Oil Protest

Wife of photojournalist Denis Sinyakov, Alina, protests at headquarters of Russian Investigative Committee, Moscow, Sept. 26, 2013.
Wife of photojournalist Denis Sinyakov, Alina, protests at headquarters of Russian Investigative Committee, Moscow, Sept. 26, 2013.
Reuters
— A Russian court on Thursday ordered 14 Greenpeace activists and a photojournalist to be held in custody for two months pending further investigation over a protest against offshore Arctic oil drilling, drawing criticism from the environmental group.
 
The 15 detainees, who had been among 30 people aboard a Greenpeace ship used to stage the protest at the Prirazlomnaya oil platform, were denied bail by judges in the northern city of Murmansk, Greenpeace and Russian media said.
 
Seven others were ordered held for three days, and eight were still awaiting hearings late on Thursday evening.
 
All 30 were detained last week aboard the icebreaker Arctic Sunrise, which was seized by Russian coast guards after two activists tried to scale the Barents Sea oil rig owned by state-controlled Gazprom on September 18.
 
“We are deeply concerned by the decision of the judge to refuse bail,” Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven said.
 
Those ordered held for two months included the ship's captain, U.S. national Pete Willcox, as well as activists and crew members from nations including France, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Poland and Russia, Greenpeace said.
 
The federal Investigative Committee has termed the protest an attack and opened a criminal case on suspicion of piracy, which is punishable by up to 15 years in jail. The activists have not been charged.
 
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the activists from 18 countries were clearly not pirates but had broken international law, suggesting they might end up facing less severe charges.
 
The spokesman for the Investigative Committee said on Thursday that activists ordered held for two months might be released on bail before that period ends if their role is found to have been minor, the Interfax news agency reported.
 
Greenpeace has said it was the Russian law enforcement authorities who broke the law by boarding the Arctic Sunrise, and denied the piracy allegations, saying its activists had conducted a peaceful protest.
 
Oil spill fears
 
“The Russian authorities are trying to scare people who stand up to the oil industry in the Arctic, but this blatant intimidation will not succeed,” Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.
 
Nils Muiznieks, human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, told Reuters the denial of bail “clearly raises human rights concerns”, saying pre-trial detention should be used only in exceptional circumstances when there is no alternative.
 
He urged Russia, a council member, to abide by standards for protecting the right to free expression and peaceful assembly.
 
Greenpeace says scientific evidence shows any oil spill from Prirazlomnaya, Russia's first offshore oil platform in the Arctic, would affect more than 3,000 miles (4,800 km) of Russia's coastline.
 
In Bulgaria, police arrested six Greenpeace activists who blocked a Gazprom gas station to protest its Arctic drilling plans. Four of them had chained themselves to fuel pumps and waved banners that read: “Stop Gazprom, Save the Arctic” and “Gazprom = Arctic destruction.”
 
The Prirazlomnaya rig — a crucial part of Russia's effort to tap oil and gas in the Arctic — is slated to start operating by the end of the year and is expected to reach peak production of 6 million tons per year (120,000 barrels per day) in 2019.
 
Denis Sinyakov, a photographer who was denied bail, said he had covered the protest as a journalist, Greenpeace said.
 
The advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said Sinyakov's detention was an “unacceptable violation of freedom of information,” and dozens of journalists and activists protested outside the Investigative Committee headquarters in Moscow.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid