Greenpeace activists, including 2 Canadians, jailed in Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin says activists not pirates, defends coast guard's actions
A Russian court on Thursday jailed the captain of a Greenpeace ship along with a photographer and several activists, including two Canadians, who were part of a 30-member team protesting near an oil platform in the Arctic last week.
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The ship’s bosun, Alexandre Poul, of Montreal, and chief mate Paul Douglas Ruzycki, of Port Colborne, Ont., were remanded into custody for two months while Russian officials determine if they will be charged.
The court also denied bail and sanctioned a two-month jail term for Russian photographer Denis Sinyakov and Greenpeace spokesman Roman Dolgov, also from Russia.
It handed out similar terms for the ship's captain, Pete Willcox of the United States, boat mechanic Jonathon Beauchamp of New Zealand, Francesco Pisanu of France, and Gizhem Akhan of Turkey. Some other activists were jailed only for three days pending the probe.
Russia's Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said some of those jailed could be released before two months are up as investigators clarify what roles they played in the protest.
The Russian coast guard disrupted an attempt by the activists on Sept. 18 to scale the Russian Arctic platform.
Russian authorities seized the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, and towed it, with the 30 activists aboard, to Murmansk.
Russian authorities are looking into whether the activists could be charged with piracy, among other offences.
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.
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 and any charges against the activists.