Russia under fire for treatment of jailed Greenpeace activists

The country's tough stance on the "Arctic 30" is drawing international scrutiny

Published October 7, 2013 1:53PM (EDT)

Things aren't looking particularly promising for the 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists arrested for boarding a Russian oil rig in the Arctic. But authorities' alleged mishandling of the situation is creating its own set of problems for Moscow. According to the Associated Press, "several governments now appear ready to add the Greenpeace detentions to their grown log of complaints about Russia's treatment of human rights issues under President Vladimir Putin."

The announcement, two weeks back, that they would be charged with piracy for their actions drew scrutiny from many, including the U.S. Department of State, which said that it was "monitoring the case very closely." All face jail time of up to 15 years if convicted.

The Guardian reported today that some of the jailed activists are being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, according to Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International's executive director. Naidoo also raised concerns about "extremely cold" cells and noted that the group had been split up among several prisons.

International support for the activists, however, is growing. They now have their own nickname -- the "Arctic 30" -- and over the weekend, vigils throughout the world were held in their honor. Jude Law, fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Clash guitarist Paul Simonon and musician Damon Albarn were among the celebrities spotted at a protests outside the Russian embassy in London.

Greenpeace, meanwhile, will continue to work to "save the Arctic [and] prevent catastrophic climate change" while "resisting the inaction on the part of governments who should be taking leadership," said Naidoo.

By Lindsay Abrams

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Greenpeace Human Rights Offshore Drilling Piracy Russia Vladimir Putin