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Protest or Piracy? Greenpeace Activists Remain Jailed in Russia
by Democracy Now!
Friday Oct 11th, 2013 11:00 AM
September 26, 2013: Thirty Greenpeace activists remain jailed in Russia facing possible piracy charges after they attempted to board Russia’s first Arctic offshore oil rig. Many of the activists are appearing in a Russian court today, facing up to 15 years in prison if Russian prosecutors bring threatened piracy charges. We’re joined by Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, who took part in a similar action against oil drilling in the Arctic last year. "This is a disportionate use of state authority to try to silence of every important global conversation that needs to be had," Naidoo says. "We are reaching the tipping point on climate. The Arctic serves as a refrigerator and an air conditioner of the planet. And rather than treating the warming sea ice during the summer months as a warning sign that we need to get serious about climate change, sadly Western oil companies like Exxon, Shell and so on are partnering with Russian-owned companies to go and try to drill for the last drops of oil in this most fragile, remote and risky environment."
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Protest or Piracy? Greenpeace Activists Remain Jailed in Russia After Boarding Arctic Oil Rig

(Greenpeace segment begins at 14:50 into the show.)

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Thirty activists with Greenpeace remain jailed in Russia and face possible piracy charges, one week after they were detained after a peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling. Many of the Greenpeace activists are appearing in a Russian court today. A freelance photographer and a Greenpeace spokesperson, Roman Dolgov have just been ordered to be jailed for two months. On September 18, Greenpeace activists attempted to scale Russia’s first Arctic offshore oil platform. A nearby Russian Coast Guard ship with agents masked on board responded. The Russians proceeded to ram and slash the Greenpeace inflatable boats, sprayed the activists with water cannons and fired warning shots. They detain two Greenpeace activists who had managed to climb onto the oil platform.

AMY GOODMAN: A day later, armed Russian coast guards descended on the Greenpeace’s main ship, the Arctic Sunrise, using a helicopter and ropes. They reportedly lined up the majority of the 30 activists on board and held them at gunpoint on their knees on the ship’s deck. Officials then towed the boat and its occupants to the port Mermansk where the activists were held incommunicado and questioned by investigators. On Tuesday, Russia’s top investigative agency said it would prosecute the Greenpeace activists on piracy charges. If convicted, the activists could face up to 15 years in prison. On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended the Russian Coast Guard’s decision to apprehend the Greenpeace activists. He spoke at an international conference on the Arctic.

PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: It would be better if Greenpeace representatives sat with us together in this hall and told us what they think about the problems we are discussing. They could state their complaints, demands, and concerns. No one is trying to brush them aside. We gather for meetings like this specifically to discuss such problems. It is obvious they are not pirates, but they tried to storm the platform. Our security forces and border troops did not know exactly who exactly was trying to seize the platform under the Greenpeace guise. It is obvious these people violated international law by coming dangerously close to the platform.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Human rights groups have called on Russian authorities to drop the piracy charges. Amnesty International Russia Director Sergei Nikitin said the activists legitimately exercised their right to peaceful protest.