Russian court jails 8 more Greenpeace activists
MOSCOW (AP) — A court in the northern Russian city of Murmansk on Sunday sent all eight remaining Greenpeace activists to jail for two months, showing no leniency toward any of the 30 people detained for a protest at a drilling platform in Arctic waters.
Twenty activists and two journalists were ordered jailed for two months during a marathon court session on Thursday that stretched late into night, but the court had ruled to hold the remaining eight only until new hearings could be held on Sunday.
No charges have been brought against any of the activists, who are citizens of 18 countries, including Russia. Russian prosecutors are considering whether to charge them with piracy, among other offenses, and the activists are being held pending the investigation.
The Russian Coast Guard disrupted an attempt on Sept. 18 by two of the activists to scale an offshore platform owned by Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom to call attention to the environmental risks of drilling in Arctic waters. The next day, the Coast Guard seized Greenpeace’s ship, the Arctic Sunrise, and then towed it to Murmansk with the crew and activists aboard.
Greenpeace Russia campaign director Ivan Blokov has described the seizure of the ship as “the most aggressive and hostile act” against the environmental organization since French government agents bombed the Rainbow Warrior ship in 1985, killing one man.
Peter Willcox, an American who captained the Rainbow Warrior, also is the captain of the Arctic Sunrise. He was ordered held in custody during Thursday’s court session.
Those ordered jailed on Sunday include Dima Litvinov, Greenpeace International spokesman, who has dual U.S. and Swedish citizenship; Finnish activist Sini Saarela, who was one of the two who tried to scale the platform; two British activists; two Dutch citizens; a Brazilian deckhand and a Ukrainian cook.
Greenpeace posted photographs on its website of the separate hearings, with activists shown sitting or standing inside the defendant’s cage in the courtroom.
The platform, which belongs to Gazprom’s oil subsidiary, 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 this month it was to start pumping oil this year, but no precise date has been set.