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Outcry over news photographer arrested during Greenpeace protest in Arctic

By The Siberian Times reporter
27 September 2013

Russian news outlets carry blank pictures to highlight concern over detention of Denis Sinyakov.

No Pictures Friday. Reporters Without Borders lodged a protest over Denis Sinyakov's detention calling it 'an unacceptable violation of freedom of information'

The photographer was one of 30 on board the Arctic Sunrise, a Greenpeace vessel, which staged a protest over a Gazprom rig in the Pechora Sea. Respected photojournalist Sinyakov was there in a professional capacity - but was detained anyway by the Russian authorities who have accused the ecological campaigners of piracy offences. 

A court in Murmansk jailed 22 of those detained from the ship including the captain, a US citizen, and Russian citizen Sinyakov, a freelancer who formerly worked for Reuters news agency. They face up to two months in detention in the Arctic port. 

Eight activists were ordered to be held for three days pending a further hearing. Russia's Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin indicated some maybe released sooner after clarification of the role they played. 

Reporters Without Borders lodged a protest over Sinyakov's detention calling it 'an unacceptable violation of freedom of information'. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also voiced concern, demanding his immediate release.  

In a concerted response, news outlets in Russia ran blank squares instead of photographs.

This campaign involved among others the web outlets of  Lenta.ru, and Gazeta.ru, Znak.com, Snob , Russian planet, New Times, Novaya Gazeta, Metro newspaper and Arguments and Facts, Rain and NTV TV channels and radio station Echo Moscow. 

Sergei Anisimov, one of Russian best known photographers from Salekhard, Yamal peninsula, winner of multiple awards including The best of Russia photography competition, said: 'I am supporting the 'No Pictures Friday' called by many Russian's media. Denis is a great man and a highly talented photographer, one of the winners of our international Global Arctic Awards competition.'

The target of the protest was a platform belonging to an oil subsidiary of the state gas company Gazprom, is the first offshore rig in the Arctic. It was deployed to the vast Prirazlomnoye oil field in the Pechora Sea in 2011, but its launch has been delayed by technological challenges. 

Gazprom said earlier this month it was to start pumping oil this year, but no precise date has been set. Russia's federal Investigative Committee has termed the protest an attack and opened a criminal case on suspicion of piracy, which is punishable by up to 15 years in jail.

'These detentions are like the Russian oil industry itself, a relic from an earlier era. Our peaceful activists are in prison tonight for shining a light on Gazprom's recklessness,' said Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo.  

In a statement, Naidoo said Greenpeace would appeal the rulings.

The 30 people included six Britons and four Russians as well as nationals of Argentina, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States.

Comments (1)

good to see Russian media finally getting united over the freedom of press violation issues
Tiina , Estonia
01/10/2013 22:36
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