Russia halts Lithuanian dairy imports before EU summit
The 29 Greenpeace activists and a freelance Russian journalist have been charged with piracy after their September protest at an oil platform. The charge carries a sentence up to 15 years. Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigative Committee, said Wednesday that “dual-use equipment” and drugs were found on the Greenpeace ship, Arctic Sunrise. Markin said that the committee was expecting to charge several activists with more “grave crimes” once they have established their role in the protest. He said that investigators are trying to identify the people whose inflated boats were standing in the way of Russian coast guards, thus “threatening life and safety of an official,” a grave offense in Russia. The head of Greenpeace International has written to Russian President Vladimir Putin requesting a meeting in Moscow and offering himself as human bail for the detainees. Kumi Naidoo of the Amsterdam-based organization delivered the letter to the Russian embassy in The Hague on Wednesday. He said he would guarantee the activists’ good conduct but said that piracy charges don’t make sense and should be dropped. A group of 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists have been held since their ship, the “Arctic Sunrise” was seized by the Russian coast guard after a protest outside a Gazprom-owned oil rig Sept. 18. Join the Discussion You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
Painkiller morphine is subject to strict rules in Russia on how it must be stored by medics. ‘Nothing illegal was on the ship’ “Any claim that something other than medical supplies was found should be regarded with great suspicion,” Greenpeace said, adding the ship was searched with a sniffer dog in Norway. “Nothing was found because nothing illegal was on the ship.” The group added the vessel had stored “certain medical supplies” in a safe to which only the captain and the doctor had access. “The safe was broken into by the Russian authorities during the searching of the ship.” A Moscow-based Greenpeace representative, Mikhail Kreindlin, said the vessel had been without the crew for two weeks. “In these circumstances a nuclear bomb could have been found there.” The group also said the claims over boat ramming were a “fantasy.” Last week, investigators charged the ship’s 30 activists from 18 countries including a freelance photojournalist with piracy which carries a punishment of up to 15 years in prison. The activists were last month placed in pre-trial detention for two months. Earlier Wednesday, Greenpeace chief Kumi Naidoo asked for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, saying he was willing to travel to Russia and offer himself as “security” to win the activists’ release. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin was aware the letter was delivered to the Russian embassy in the Hague but said such a meeting was not being considered now. Putin has said the activists “of course are not pirates” but his spokesman later said the president had expressed his personal opinion. The unusually harsh charges prompted protest rallies around the world over the weekend, with celebrities like actor Jude Law and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood joining in. Earlier this week a Greenpeace lawyer said the activists had to endure “inhuman conditions” in their jails. Since the arrests of the activists ties between Russia and the Netherlands, the Greenpeace ship’s flag country, have deteriorated sharply. On Tuesday, Putin demanded a Dutch apology after the Netherlands briefly detained a Russian diplomat, with authorities hinting Wednesday they may ban the import of Dutch tulips and dairy products. Maria Lipman, an analyst with the Carnegie Moscow Center, said the arrests came as Kremlin’s pugilistic rhetoric was degenerating into a genuine anti-Western stance.
Russia Mulls New Charges Against Greenpeace
Lithuania, which borders the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad and joined the EU in 2004, has had transport trucks held up at Russian customs for up to 20 days at a time in recent weeks, causing heavy losses for its freight industry. Taking aim at another sector, the Russian consumer protection agency Rospotrebnadzor said inspections of Lithuanian dairy imports had revealed “numerous violations” of quality and sanitary standards in products including cheeses and yoghurt. “We are seeing a sharp weakening of (Lithuania’s) position on protecting the rights and safety of consumers,” Rospotrebnadzor chief Gennady Onishchenko said, according to the Interfax news agency. Lithuania exported dairy products worth $193 million to Russia last year, according to the Russian National Milk Producers’ Union – the vast majority of it cheese that is found on many shop shelves. Russia is also stepping up monitoring of Lithuanian meat and fish imports, state-run news agency Prime reported, citing an unidentified source. Rospotrebnadzor declined to comment. POLITICAL PRESSURE Onishchenko regularly denies any geopolitical motives, but past bans on products from ex-Soviet republics – such as wine and mineral water from Georgia – have been widely seen as a form of political pressure. In Brussels, the European Commission said it had “complete confidence” in the quality of Lithuanian dairy products and called for discussions with the Russian side. “The EU has the most stringent system in the world when it comes to food safety,” Frederic Vincent, Commission spokesman for health and consumer policy, told a regular press briefing. Of the 15 former republics that became independent states when the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, only the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have joined the EU. But the EU’s Eastern Partnership policy, designed to draw six other ex-Soviet states closer to the European fold, has run up against President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to revive Moscow’s sway by promoting closer ties among its former vassals. At the Vilnius summit, the EU is scheduled to sign a political association and free trade accord with Ukraine and may take further steps towards such deals with Moldova and Georgia. Belarus and Armenia remain more closely aligned with Moscow.
Russia’s Terrifying Form Of ‘Homemade Heroin’ Seems To Be Spreading Across The US
Known as krokodil (“crocodile” in Russian), the drug can turn skin greenish and scaly by destroying tissue and blood vessels. It originated in Russian in 2003 as an inexpensive substitute for heroin. Last month doctors in Arizona treated patients who said they had taken the drug, and this week a doctor in Illinois says that he has treated at least three patients who reported use of the drug and presented its symptoms. It is a horrific way to get sick. The smell of rotten flesh permeates the room,” Dr. Abhin Singla, director of Addition Services at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, Ill., told The Times Weekly . “Intensive treatment and skin grafts are required, but they often are not enough to save limbs or lives. Krokodil’s psychoactive agent, desomorphine, was first synthesized in the U.S. in 1932 as a less nauseous and less addictive substitute for morphine. But desomorphine is actually eight to 10 times as potent as morphine and may be more addictive because its effects are more rapid. Max Ehrenfreund of The Washington Post notes that about 10 years ago, Russians discovered how to synthesize desomorphine at home using codeine, paint thinner, lighter fluid, hydorcloric acid, and red phosphorous (which can be gleaned from the sides of matchboxes). The resulting drug, which is usually taken intravenously, is devastating to the body. (The pictures are horrifying.) When you use the krokodil . .