Russia Denies Bail To Three Held Over Greenpeace Arctic Protest

Credit: Reuters/Stringer MOSCOW | Tue Oct 8, 2013 11:50am EDT MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian court denied bail on Tuesday to three of 30 people arrested on piracy charges following a protest by environmental group Greenpeace against offshore oil drilling in the Arctic. All 30 face up to 15 years in jail if convicted for the protest in which a Greenpeace ship approached an oil platform owned by Gazprom, and have appealed against keeping them in custody through late November for further investigation. The court in the northern port city of Murmansk rejected the appeals filed by activist Andrei Allakhverdov, ship’s doctor Yekaterina Zaspa and Denis Sinyakov, a freelance photographer who documented the protest, Greenpeace said. All three are Russian. Hearings for the other 27, nationals of 18 countries – including activists who tried to scale the oil platform during the protest – are expected later this week. Greenpeace says the piracy charges against the activists and crew members are absurd and unfounded and that the conditions of detention have in some cases violated their rights. “They are now prisoners of conscience, and as such they are the responsibility of the world,” said Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International. The Netherlands launched legal proceedings against Russia on Friday, saying it had unlawfully detained the activists and others on the Dutch-registered icebreaker Arctic Sunrise. After the protest, Russian coastguard officers forcibly boarded and seized control of the ship. It was then towed to Murmansk and Russia has denied Greenpeace’s assertions that the ship had been in international waters when it was seized. (Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Steve Gutterman and Angus MacSwan)

Russia Receives Sochi Olympics Flame

The Ukrainian was declared winner by unanimous decision. Klitschko, looking as if he had hardly broken a sweat, tried to be gracious after his successful title defense was confirmed. “Alexander boxed to the last like a warrior, and I thank him for that,” he said into a microphone. “This is sports, and the stronger man wins.” Boos and whistles drowned out his words: To many in the audience, it had been much more than sports. Recriminations started immediately afterward. Nikolai Valuev, a former heavyweight champion turned pro-Putin parliament deputy, accused Klitschko of fighting dirty. Prominent Russian Orthodox clergyman Dimitri Pershin said Povetkin had lost because he had betrayed Christianity by showing too much interest in the ancient pagan gods of the Slavs. “Instead of tattooing runes on his body, he should have trained,” the Interfax news service quoted Pershin as saying. Some Russians were disheartened by the contrast between the pre-fight nationalist display and the fight itself. “Such a dense concentration of nationalism is advisable only when you’re fully confident of a victory,” former privatization minister Alfred Kokh wrote on Facebook. Many Ukrainians could not resist gloating at the Russian fighter’s powerlessness to stop their idol. Jokes filled social networks, with Ukrainians calling Povetkin “Chicken Kiev” and “Alexander the Hugger.” Perhaps Povetkin, who came unbeaten to the fight with Klitschko, could have acquitted himself better had it not been for the incredible political build-up. “What Alexander did in the ring was caused by extreme psychological pressure,” respected boxing commentator Vladimir Gendlin told TV Rain.

Russia Gets Black Eye in Heavyweight Bout

After a six-day trek across 33 towns in Greece’s mainly mountainous northern regions, the flame that was lit last Sunday by the sun’s rays at the birthplace of the ancient Games in Olympia was presented to Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak. From its overnight perch on the ancient Acropolis, the flame traveled through Athens’ streets before being carried into the stadium, built in 330 BC, by Greek figure skating champion Panagiotis Markouzios. As he lit the golden cauldron encircled by priestesses in long, cream-colored, pleated robes, the crowd erupted in cheers of Russia! Russia! We are especially emotional, Hellenic Olympic Committee head Spyros Capralos said. The flame, for us Greeks, is a piece of our country, a part of our history and a tight bond to our ancestors. The flame will be flown in special safety lanterns from Athens to Moscow on Sunday and it will then begin the longest torch relay in the history of the Winter Games from the Red Square. It will travel more than 65,000 km, looping around Russia’s 83 regions on foot, in sleighs, hot air balloons and even on a trip to space, as Russia prepares to showcase its modern post-Soviet face. More than 90 percent of the Russian population will have been within one hour of the flame before the lighting of the Olympic cauldron takes place at the stadium at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 7. Great honor For me it is a great honor, responsibility and pleasure to be here tonight, on the land that gave birth to the European civilization and presented the world with the Olympic Games, Kozak said. On this momentous day I am telling you with certainty that our country … will succeed in fulfilling its commitment to the Olympic movement, Kozak added. Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to deliver a brilliant Games to show how far Russia has come since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But Russia has come under mounting international criticism over a new anti-gay propaganda law, which critics believe is repressive, and preparations for the Games will not be plain sailing for the Russian hosts. Earlier in the day, a group of Greek gay activists raised the rainbow flag outside Greece’s Acropolis museum in Athens.