Stuck in a Russian jail
Sep 26, 2013 / 6:35 am
A Russian court on Thursday jailed a photographer and two Greenpeace activists who were part of the 30-member Greenpeace team protesting near an oil platform in the Arctic last week.
The Coast Guard disrupted an attempt by Greenpeace activists on Sept. 18 to scale the Russian Arctic platform. Russian authorities seized Greenpeace's ship the next day and towed it with the 30 activists aboard to Murmansk. The activists are being investigated for piracy.
The court on Thursday denied bail and sanctioned a two-month jail term for photographer Denis Sinyakov, Greenpeace spokesman Roman Dolgov and campaigner Paul Ryzincki, pending the investigation. The first two men are Russian, while Ryzincki is Canadian. No charges have been brought against them yet.
The judge has yet to rule in the cases of the other 27 people.
Although Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday the activists aren't pirates, he defended their detention.
The detained activists are from 18 countries, including Russia, and a long detention or trials could draw unwelcome international attention to Russia's tough policy against protests. Judges in six courtrooms were hearing the cases of each activist individually and have not yet ruled in the case of foreign activists.
Greenpeace's executive director, Kumi Naidoo, said in an emailed statement that "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."
The platform, which belongs to an oil subsidiary of the state gas company Gazprom, is the first offshore rig in the Arctic. It was deployed to the vast Prirazlomnoye oil field in the Pechora Sea in 2011, but its launch has been delayed by technological challenges. Gazprom said earlier this month it was to start pumping oil this year, but no precise date has been set.
The Arctic Sunrise sails under the Dutch flag. The Netherlands has asked Russia to release the ship and its crew immediately, explain the legal basis for its actions, the exact location where the ship was seized and any charges against the activists
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