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Putin: Russia committed to Arctic environmental protection
by Staff Writers
Salekhard, Russia (UPI) Sep 27, 2013


Russia remands Greenpeace activists, group to appeal
Moscow (AFP) Sept 27, 2013 - A Russian court has remanded in custody all 30 crew members of a Greenpeace protest ship over a high seas protest against oil drilling, the group said on Friday, vowing to appeal.

The Lenin district court in the northern city of Murmansk ruled that 22 crew members will remain in pre-trial detention for two months during the investigation into alleged piracy over the September 18 protest at a state-owned oil platform.

The other eight from Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise icebreaker face new hearings on Monday after judges ruled that they needed further information.

The court concluded marathon hearings into the 30 crew members of Greenpeace's ship early on Monday. The activists, 26 of them foreign nationals, will now be held in jail.

Russian investigators have accused the Greenpeace activists of piracy after two of them tried to scale state energy giant Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Barents Sea.

Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said the environmental group would appeal the detentions.

"We will not be intimidated, we will appeal these detentions, and together we will prevail," he said in a statement.

Several Russian news websites, including that of NTV national television channel blacked out all their photographs on Friday in protest at the two-month detention of photographer Denis Sinyakov, a former staff photographer at AFP and Reuters who was working for Greenpeace as a freelancer.

"Denis Sinyakov's being accused of piracy and his preliminary detention for two months will probably become a precedent in the history of Russian journalism," Vedomosti business daily warned in an editorial.

Greenpeace said that a British videographer, Kieron Bryan, was also among those detained for two months.

The group said that the foreigners were given "inadequate translation" during the court proceedings.

The court's decision came despite President Vladimir Putin saying on Wednesday of the activists that "of course they are not pirates."

Investigators in court said that the activists had committed piracy by trying to seize property with threats of violence.

The spokesman for the Investigative Committee, which probes major cases in Russia said Thursday that during the course of the investigation the charge against the group could be reduced to a less serious one.

The Arctic region holds huge economic potential but Russia also wants to cooperate with others to preserve its fragile environment, President Vladimir Putin says.

Putin, speaking Wednesday at the Third International Arctic Forum in the sub-polar city of Salekhard, pledged to work with the other "Arctic Five" nations to keep the polar region clean, even as the event was overshadowed by the arrest of 30 Greenpeace demonstrators attempting to storm a Russian oil rig in the Arctic Ocean.

he Russian president referred to the 2008 Ilulissat Declaration signed in Greenland by Russia, the United States, Denmark, Canada and Norway, in which they pledged in part to protect the Arctic's marine environment should new shipping routes be opened due to global warming.

"Let me remind you that in 2008, the 'Arctic Five', including Russia, issued a declaration that sets out the international legal base for responsible governance in the northern sea areas," Putin said. "I want to reaffirm today Russia's commitment to this declaration's principles, and also to our desire to do everything possible to make the Arctic in practice a territory of partnership, cooperation and dialogue between countries and between the public at the broadest level."

Putin assured attendees Russia takes its Arctic environmental responsibilities seriously as it seeks to exploit the vast oil and gas potential of the region.

The country has significantly boosted hydrocarbon extraction there in the last decade, discovering more than 1,000 oil and gas fields, while also identifying deposits of diamonds and other rare metals, The Moscow Times reported.

The Russian energy companies Rosneft and Gazprom are active there, with Rosneft partnering with foreign major such as ExxonMobil and Statoil on oil exploration.

Part of Russia's Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy calls for allowing only energy companies with "the most advanced technology and the financial resources" to be granted access to the Arctic, Putin said.

Moscow has earmarked around $45 million for an "ambitious" clean-up project in the Arctic, including the removal of diesel fuel reserves left by the Soviet military in the 1960s, which have been frozen into the permafrost.

"I also note that we plan to extend considerably the network of nature conservation areas in the Arctic region," the Russian leader said. "These specially protected natural areas currently make up around 6 percent of the Russian Arctic, nearly (124,000 square miles). Our plan is to increase this area several-fold."

As the delegates gathered in Salekhard, 30 Greenpeace activists were placed in pretrial detention in Moscow after investigators opened a piracy case against them, which could result in 15-year sentences.

Putin told reporters he didn't think the protesters were guilty of piracy, but deserved to arrested.

"I do not know the details of the incident. They are obviously not pirates, but formally, they did attempt to board the platform," he said. "Our law enforcement officers and border guards did not know who was using Greenpeace's name to try to board the platform.

"This coincided with the events that were taking place in Kenya [where scores of people were killed in a terrorist attack at a Nairobi shopping mall], so anything was possible and we didn't know just who these people were out there," Putin said. "What is clear is that they violated international law and came dangerously close to the platform."

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ICE WORLD
Putin says Arctic activists broke law but 'not pirates'
Moscow (AFP) Sept 25, 2013
President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday 30 Greenpeace activists arrested by Russia were not "pirates" but had broken the law in a protest against Arctic oil exploration, as the authorities detained all the campaigners pending trial. On Tuesday, Russia opened a criminal probe into suspected piracy by the four Russian and 26 foreign Greenpeace activists, with charges carrying the maximum punis ... read more


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