Russia media protests reporter's detention

2013-09-27 14:49
Greenpeace International contracted freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov sitting in a defendant cage in a court in the northern Russian city of Murmansk. (Igor Podgorny, AFP)

Greenpeace International contracted freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov sitting in a defendant cage in a court in the northern Russian city of Murmansk. (Igor Podgorny, AFP)

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Moscow - Russian media on Friday protested against the detention of Russian reporter Denis Sinyakov by displaying black spots in lieu of photographs.

Leading news organisations such as Ekho Moskvy radio station and the NTV television channel blackened all photos on their websites to show solidarity with Sinyakov.

A prominent photo reporter, Sinyakov was detained along with 29 activists on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, from where the organisation last week tried to storm a Russian oil drilling platform in the Arctic Sea.

Russian coast guards stopped the daring protest, seized the ship and escorted it to the Arctic port city of Murmansk, where 30 crew members were put into detention cells.

In marathon hearings that lasted until late night Thursday, a local court ordered 22 activists to remain in detention for two months, pending a piracy investigation, Greenpeace said.

Sinyakov, who was the first to have his detention sanctioned, was accused by prosecutors of belonging to a "criminal organisation". According to Greenpeace, he retorted that "the criminal activity I am blamed for is journalism. I will keep doing it."

Another eight activists also remain in custody but must appear before court on Sunday.

The decision about the eight was postponed because there were not enough translators to collect evidence, a court spokesperson told the Interfax news agency.

Greenpeace criticised the proceedings as illegal. "We are demanding the immediate release of all activists, our ship, and an end to offshore oil drilling in the Arctic for good," the organisation said.

Rights groups criticised the Russian authorities response to the protest.

"There is no reason to impose detention as a preventive measure," prominent Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov told Interfax.

The organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) called for Sinyakov's release.

"It is worrisome that Sinyakov was arrested while performing his professional duties as a photojournalist," the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, wrote in a letter to the head of the Russian Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin.

The Russia agency spearheaded the investigation against the activists, accusing them of piracy, which could carry up to 15 years in prison. Reporters on Thursday held pickets in support of Sinyakov outside the Committee's Moscow headquarters.

Read more on:    greenpeace  |  russia  |  media  |  green protests

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