REFILE-Russia refuses to bail two Britons held for Greenpeace protest

Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:43pm IST

Related Topics

Stocks

   

* Environmental protesters being held on piracy charges

* First foreigners to appeal against detention fail

* Finish minister resigns over separate Greenpeace protest

By Gabriela Baczynska

MOSCOW, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Two Britons held in Russia for a Greenpeace protest were ordered to remain in pre-trial detention on Friday, a defeat for the first of the many foreigners among the 30 detainees to seek bail.

Freelance videographer Kieron Bryan and Greenpeace activist Phillip Ball, who, like the others, face piracy charges, had appealed against their detention through late November.

The court, in the northern port city of Murmansk, had already denied bail to four Russians held for the Sept. 18 protest in which a Greenpeace boat was boarded by security forces close to an oil rig in the Arctic.

The arrests and the piracy charges - punishable by up to 15 years in prison - appear aimed at deterring protests and sending a message that Moscow will not tolerate any such actions.

Other countries and companies are seeking to exploit Arctic energy resources and face similar concerns from environmentalists. A Finnish minister resigned on Friday over a row about a Greenpeace protest last year.

Some activists had tried to scale the Gazprom-owned Prirazlomnaya rig which is an important part of Russia's plans to develop the resource-rich Arctic, a move Greenpeace says could destroy a pristine environment.

Investigators have said more charges will be pressed against some protesters after drugs and other suspect items were found on the boat, the Arctic Sunrise. Greenpeace denies there were illegal items aboard.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the activists were not pirates but that they violated international law. The head of the Kremlin's advisory body on human rights has said he would ask prosecutors to withdraw the piracy charges.

Greenpeace says the protest was peaceful and calls the piracy charges absurd and unfounded. Those arrested include American, Argentinian, Australian, Canadian, Danish, Dutch, French, Italian, New Zealand, Swiss and Turkish citizens, Greenpeace says.

In neighbouring Finland, a government minister who had appeared sympathetic to Greenpeace in a separate Arctic protest, resigned.

Heidi Hautala, minister for international development who is also in charge of overseeing state ownership in companies was criticised by colleagues and the media for trying to dissuade state-owned shipping firm Arctia Shipping from filing a criminal complaint against the protest group.

Protesters scaled an Arctia icebreaker, contracted by Shell, in Helsinki last year to demonstrate against Arctic drilling.

Hautala, a member of Finland's Green Party, said she thought a state-owned firm should seek dialogue rather than legal action.

"I feel, however, that it would be very difficult for me to work in this role and therefore I see that it is best solution that I resign," she said.

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Earnings Season

Earnings Season

Reliance Q4 sales rise, refining margin narrows.  Read 

Literary Giant Dies

Literary Giant Dies

Nobel winner Garcia Marquez, master of magical realism, dies at 87.  Full Article 

Election 2014

Election 2014

India holds biggest day of voting with BJP gaining strength  Full Article | Full Coverage 

Insider Trading

Insider Trading

Ex-Goldman director Gupta starts prison term on June 17.  Full Article 

Market Eye

Market Eye

Sensex jumps 351 points, snaps 3-day losing streak  Full Article 

Expansion Plans

Expansion Plans

Reliance Industries, HPCL Mittal plan refinery expansions.  Full Article 

S&P on India

S&P on India

S&P: India's ratings to depend on next govt econ, fiscal policies.  Full Article 

Ambitious Aim

Ambitious Aim

In green car race, Toyota adds muscle with fuel-cell launch.  Full Article 

Bond Market

Bond Market

A star abroad, RBI boss riles bond traders at home  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage