The sleep deprivation affects their health and, coupled with faulty sewing equipment, results in high levels of work-related injuries. Tolokonnikova also alleges that the colonys staff pressure prisoners to beat, strip, and inflict other abuse on fellow inmates who lag behind in their work. Tolokonnikova wrote that on August 30 she tried to raise these issues with the deputy head warden of Penal Colony 14 and asked him to reduce the workday to 12 hours so that the women could get eight hours of sleep. The official responded that he would reduce the workday to the eight hours allowed by law, but without lowering the quotas. When Tolokonnikova tried to point out that not meeting the quotas would inevitably result in penalties for inmates, she claims the official allegedly responded that if anyone found out she was the person who had made the complaint she would never complain again, adding that there was nothing to complain about in the afterlife. Later, the deputy head warden denied making the threat. The allegation that a senior prison official made a thinly veiled death threat in response to a complaint by an inmate is extremely serious, Lokshina said. Russian authorities should investigate it without delay. Tolokonnikova wrote that during the weeks following that meeting she and her co-workers were systematically punished for alleged poor work performance, including by being deprived of bathroom and smoking breaks, and tea privileges. Prisoners known for their close relationship with the wardens used the inmates growing frustration with these privations to bully Tolokonnikova and even to incite them to violence against her, she wrote. Tolokonnikovas letter described other conditions in the penal colony that do not meet international standards for the treatment of prisoners, including: unlawful punishments for filing complaints against the wardens; inadequate food rations, consisting largely of stale bread and rotten potatoes; clogged, filthy toilets; lack of hot water and water cutoffs in retaliation for asking for hot water. Tolokonnikova also sent official complaints to Russias Chief Investigation Agency and the Penitentiary Agency, seeking an investigation into the threats against her as well as into the unlawful practices at the colony. She asked to be transferred to another penal colony, citing a heightened risk of physical violence against her. The authorities should go further than satisfying her request for transfer. They should release Tolokonnikova, investigate work and detention conditions at Penal Colony 14, and take steps to put an end to the abuse there, Lokshina said. Russias penitentiary authorities told the press on September 24 that Tolokonnikova is being held in comfortable conditions in a solitary confinement to ensure her safety.
Greenpeace to Appeal Activists’ Jailing in Russia
Bryan, a freelance journalist, was hired on a short-term contract by Greenpeace to document a protest against Russian oil exploration in the Arctic Circle. He was on board a ship near a Gazprom oil platform when Russian border agents in balaclavas descended from helicopters, boarded the vessel, and held the crew and passengersat gunpoint. The ship, called the Arctic Sunrise, was forced to dock at the port of Murmansk on Russias northern coast where those on board were taken into custody. Peter Willcox, the ships American captain, Bryan, and the other crew and activists from 18 countries, appeared in court in handcuffs on Thursday. Two of the activists had attempted to board a Russian oil drilling platform on climbing ropes but a Greenpeace official said it was “absurd” to suggest they were engaging in piracy. Even Vladimir Putin, the president, said obviously they are not pirates but he i nsisted that they must be held to account . “Formally they were trying to seize this platform It is evident that those people violated international law,” he said. According to the BBC, the charge of piracy in Russia carries a prison term of up to 15 years. Tanya Lokshina, the Russian program director for Human Rights Watch, told The Daily Beast that she was shocked by the governments reaction. Its completely unacceptable. We are talking about two journalists who were hired to document something. They have been sent to prison simply for doing their job, she said, adding that she was worried about their well-being. Conditions in prison are far from perfect. Thousands of journalists from all over the world are due to arrive in Sochi in a few months to cover the Olympic Games, which begin in February. One of the core values in the Olympic charter is freedom of press, Lokshina said. The arrest and the charges, she said, tells a very gruesome story about freedom of the press in Russia and how journalists are treated. Bryan specializes in filming short news features.
Greenpeace to appeal Russia detention of activists
Russian authorities are considering whether to charge them with piracy, among other offenses. The Russian Coast Guard disrupted an attempt by two of the activists to scale the oil platform on Sept. 18. The next day, they seized Greenpeace’s ship, the Arctic Sunrise, and towed it with the crew aboard to Murmansk. Greenpeace Russia campaign director Ivan Blokov described the arrest as “the most aggressive and hostile act against Greenpeace since the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior ship.” Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior was bombed by French government agents in New Zealand in 1985, killing one man. The detained activists are from 18 countries, including Russia, and a long detention or series of trials could draw unwelcome international attention to Russia’s tough policy against protests. Greenpeace Russia’s lawyer, Anton Beneslavsky, rejected Gazprom’s claims that the activists could have caused damage to the platform. “If one activist hanging on the rope from the platform could have damaged it, then such a platform should not operate on the Arctic shelf,” he told a news conference Friday. Beneslavsky also referred to Greenpeace’s protest at the same site last August when six activists spent several hours hanging off the side of the platform attached to the rig’s mooring. Back then, the coast guards “did not react at all to what happened,” he said. The activists were not detained and faced no charges. The platform, which belongs to Gazprom’s oil subsidiary, 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 this month it was to start pumping oil this year, but no precise date has been set.
“We will not be intimidated, we will appeal these detentions, and together we will prevail,” Greenpeace Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said in a statement. “These detentions are like the Russian oil industry itself, a relic from an earlier era,” he added. Among those to be held for two months was the ship’s American captain, Peter Willcox. He was also the captain of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior ship, which French secret services bombed and sunk in New Zealand in 1985. The court also ordered the two-month detention of photographer Denis Sinyakov, a former staff photographer at AFP and Reuters who was working for Greenpeace as a freelancer. The other eight of the 30-strong crew of Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise icebreaker, whose detention was prolonged by three days, face new hearings on Sunday that could see them detained for a further period. Their cases were postponed because the court lacked information on the activists or could not find interpreters, the Interfax news agency reported. Greenpeace Russia said on Twitter that the eight had been taken for meetings with investigators on Friday. The court concluded marathon hearings into the 30 crew members of Greenpeace’s ship early on Friday. The activists, 26 of them foreign nationals from 17 different countries, are being held in prisons in the Murmansk region. ‘A precedent in Russian journalism’ Russian investigators have accused the Greenpeace activists of piracy after two of them tried to scale state energy giant Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Barents Sea. The group has denied committing piracy and accuses Russia of illegally boarding its ship in international waters. In protest at the detention of photographer Sinyakov, several Russian news websites, including that of NTV national television channel and Novaya Gazeta opposition newspaper blacked out all their photographs on Friday. “Denis Sinyakov’s being accused of piracy and his preliminary detention for two months will probably become a precedent in the history of Russian journalism,” Vedomosti business daily warned in an editorial.