Environmental activist Dmitry Litvinov punished while on remand for letters to family

posted 30 Oct 2013, 14:18 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 Oct 2013, 14:20 ]
29 October 2013 

Source: HRO.org (info)
Detained Greenpeace activist Dmitry Litvinov spent three days in a punishment cell at Murmansk pre-trial detention centre last week, his lawyer, Mark Feigin, said after visiting him.

The Swedish-American environmental activist, son of the famous Soviet human rights defender and political prisoner Pavel Litvinov, was being punished for letters to his wife and family found in his cell.

On Tuesday 29 October Litvinov is to be charged with disorderly conduct, says Feigin who began working to defend the activist on Monday. According to Feigin, the defence lawyers did not have enough time to provide legal assistance or to communicate sufficiently with the defendants in the Murmansk detention centre, Grani.ru reports.

Litvinov was originally detained on charges of piracy. However, on 23 October spokesperson for the Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin, stated that the charges against all of them had been re-classified as hooliganism. Markin did not rule out the possibility that the group of environmentalists who made up the crew of the ice-breaker ship would also be charged with offences under Article 318 of the Criminal Codex (violence against representatives of authority).

Six of the thirty detaine have already been charged with hooliganism. In the next few days the investigators will continue this process with the remaining twenty four. Meanwhile, Greenpeace notes that the charge of piracy has not been removed from any of the defendants. Charges under Article 213, Section 2, of the Criminal Code (hooliganism committed by an organised group) can lead to up to seven years’ imprisonment.

Thirteen Greenpeace activists, photographer Dennis Sinyakov and sixteen members of the ice-breaker’s crew were arrested after a protest against the Pirazlomnaya oil platform on 18 September, when Russian border guards seized the Arctic Sunrise. They were all taken into custody during investigations.

Member of the Council of the Federation Vadim Tulpanov has called on the Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to personally oversee the case of Sinyakov. Tulpanov believes that the fact that Sinyakov was engaged in his professional duties as a journalist should have meant he need not have been remanded in custody during the preliminary investigation. However Tulpanov has condemned the actions of the Greenpeace activists and the crew of Arctic Sunrise.

On Monday afternoon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said those on the Arctic Sunrise knew what they were getting themselves into and now they had to wait for the court's decision. "This action was planned and everybody who took part in it, who signed up to participate in this action, knew exactly who they would be photographing, what they would be photographing, and who they would be cooking for," said Lavrov.