Russia jails Arctic oil protesters before trial

A Russian court has jailed a photographer and an activist who were part of the 30-member Greenpeace team protesting near an oil platform in the Arctic last week.

The coast guard disrupted an attempt by Greenpeace activists on September 18 to scale the Russian Arctic platform. Russian authorities seized Greenpeace’s ship the next day and towed it to Murmansk with the 30 activists aboard. They are being investigated for piracy.

Yesterday, the court denied bail and sanctioned a two-month jail term for photographer Denis Sinyakov and Greenpeace spokesman Roman Dolgov, pending the investigation. Both are Russians. No charges had been brought against them. The judge has yet to rule in the cases of the other 28 people.

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Although Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday the activists are not 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. Judges in six courtrooms have been hearing the cases of each activist individually and have not yet ruled in the case of foreign activists.

The Arctic Sunrise sails under the Dutch flag. The Netherlands has asked Russia to release the ship and its crew immediately.