Russia Meets Its Match In Greenpeace ‘pirates’

“Our border guards, our law enforcement agencies did not know who was trying to seize the rig posing as Greenpeace,” he said , adding: “It is perfectly obvious that they are not pirates.” Yet the court went ahead with the arrests. Putin has a history of publicly favoring clemency towards various detainees, such as members of the Russian opposition, without any effect on their actual treatment at the hands of the law enforcement authorities or courts. Asked to comment on this apparent disobedience, Putin is apt to shrug and point out that the courts and police do not formally report to him. The piracy charges are unprecedented and likely to be lifted, eventually. Yet the show of force is clearly meant to intimidate Greenpeace, so that it will think twice before continuing to pester Gazprom — it is not as though this were the first time. Activists have picketed the monopoly’s Moscow office, harassed exploration ships in the Arctic and generally made themselves a nuisance. Gazprom is a state-controlled mainstay of Russia’s hydrocarbon economy, and the government is, effectively, issuing a warning to activists to keep away from it. The opposite effect is more likely. Arctic Sunrise was captained by Peter Willcox, former captain of the Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace ship that was sunk by French agents in New Zealand in 1985, after being used in protests against nuclear testing in the Pacific. Greenpeace fought the French government for damages and won an $8 million award from an international tribunal. In 2007, six Greenpeace activists climbed the chimney of the Kingsnorth coal power plant in the U.K. and tried to paint the prime minister’s name down its side, hoping to draw attention to their campaign to have the plant closed down. They were accused of causing criminal damage to the property but acquitted in 2008, on grounds that they had been attempting to prevent greater damage to the environment.

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(Photo credit should read Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images) Still under fire for a series of newly enacted anti-gay laws, Russia on Thursday missed what could have been viewed as an opportunity to mend fences with the LGBT community and its international allies. In an unprecedented ministerial-level meeting at the United Nations, representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, El Salvador, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Norway, joined Secretary of State John Kerry, the U.N. high commissioner of human rights, gay rights advocates, and other high level representatives of the European Union to discuss violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals. Cognizant of the urgent need to take action, we therefore call on all United Nations Member States to repeal discriminatory laws, improve responses to hate-motivated violence, and ensure adequate and appropriate legal protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, participating members of the group said in its declaration. Organized by and for this cross regional groupknown as the LGBT Core Group at the U.N.Russia was not explicitly invited. Neither the Russian Embassy, nor the Russian Mission to the U.N. claimed to have known about the meeting. While it was limited to this core group, however, the meeting was announced, said Charles Radcliffe, head of the global issues section at the UN human rights office in New York. The fact that it was happening was not secret, he said. Any country could have requested to join. Russias absence underscores a wave of criticism engulfing the country for its anti-gay policies, the most contentious of which bans propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors. That law, along with two othersone banning the adoption of Russian-born children to gay couples and to individuals in countries that allow gays to marry, and another classifying homosexual propaganda as pornographyhave sparked worldwide protests, as well as calls to boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Over the summer, President Obama criticized Russias anti-gay posture, saying such discrimination violated basic morality. But on Thursday, the International Olympic Committee declared the propaganda law was not in violation of the Olympic charters anti-discrimination clause. Participants at Thursdays ministerial meeting adopted a declaration stating their countries strong and determined commitment to eliminating violence and discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Many countries have embarked on historic reformsstrengthening anti-discrimination laws, combating hate crimes against LGBT people and sensitizing public opinion, said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in her remarks Thursday.

Russia missing at UN meeting on LGBT rights

(AP Photo/Local Committee of Arbeen) This citizen journalism image provided by the Local Committee of Arbeen which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows dead bodies of Syrian citizens in Arbeen town, Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Local Committee of Arbeen) A Syrian family sits in a tent at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) Syrian refugees stand in a queue to receive free food at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) Syrian refugees wait to receive a tent at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) Syrian refugees wait to receive a tent at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) Syrian refugees gather for food aid at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) Syrian refugees wait for food aid at Kawergost refugee camp in Irbil, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) A Syrian military soldier holds his AK-47 with a sticker of Syrian President Bashar Assad as he stands guard at a check point on Baghdad street, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Aug.