Russia charged Greenpeace activists with piracy over a demonstration last month against Arctic oil drilling, a charge that could bring long prison terms for a protest in a region the Kremlin sees as a key to future prosperity, Reuters reported on October 2.
The federal Investigative Committee said authorities had begun charging the 30 people from 18 countries arrested after two Greenpeace activists tried to scale the Prirazlomnaya oil platform, which plays a crucial role in Russia's effort to mine Arctic resources. By evening, 14 people had been charged with piracy, Greenpeace said, including activists and icebreaking ship crew from Argentina, Britain, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia and Ukraine, as well as a dual U.S.-Swedish citizen and a British videographer who documented the protest. Greenpeace said the piracy charge, which carries a jail term of up to 15 years, was absurd.
Talking tough, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said concern for the environment did not justify breaking the law. "Concern for the environment must not be a cloak for illegal actions, no matter how high-minded the principles motivating participants," he said at a meeting on offshore oil extraction in the Caspian Sea in the southern city of Astrakhan.
Copyright: Reuters, 2013.