Credit: Reuters/Dmitri Sharomov/Greenpeace/Handout via Reuters By Gabriela Baczynska MOSCOW | Fri Oct 11, 2013 10:43pm BST MOSCOW (Reuters) – Two Britons held in Russia for a Greenpeace protest were ordered to remain in pre-trial detention on Friday, a defeat for the first of the many foreigners among the 30 detainees to seek bail. Freelance videographer Kieron Bryan and Greenpeace activist Phillip Ball, who, like the others, face piracy charges, had appealed against an order that they be held through late November. The court, in the northern port city of Murmansk, has already denied bail to four Russians held for the September 18 protest in which a Greenpeace ship was boarded by security forces close to an oil rig in the Arctic. The piracy charges – punishable by up to 15 years’ jail- appear aimed at sending a message that Moscow will not tolerate attempts to disrupt its development of the resource-rich Arctic that Greenpeace says could destroy a pristine environment. Other countries and companies are seeking to exploit Arctic energy resources and face similar concerns from environmentalists. A Finnish minister resigned on Friday over a row about a Greenpeace protest last year. Putin has said the activists were not pirates but that they had violated international law. The head of the Kremlin’s advisory body on human rights has said he would ask prosecutors to withdraw the piracy charges. Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International, has written to President Vladimir Putin asking to meet him and offering to stand as security in Russia for the release of the activists on bail. Putin’s spokesman said the letter, published in Western media on Wednesday, had not yet arrived at the Kremlin, and said it unlikely to affect the legal process. “(Putin) probably cannot get involved in a discussion about the investigative activity that is taking place,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters. MINISTER RESIGNS Investigators have said more charges will be pressed against some protesters after drugs and other suspect items were found on the boat, the Arctic Sunrise. Greenpeace denies there were illegal items aboard. Greenpeace, whose activists tried to scale the Gazprom-owned Prirazlomnaya rig, says the protest was peaceful and calls the piracy charges absurd and unfounded. Those arrested include American, Argentinian, Australian, Brazilian, Canadian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Italian, New Zealand, Swedish, Swiss, Polish, Turkish and Ukrainian citizens.
No. Virtually all of Eastern Europe is going through a period of severe economic weakness. Poland, everyones favorite post-communist wunderkind, grew by 1.9% in 2012 and is forecast to grow by as little as 1.1% in 2013. Slovakia, which was also lauded for its determined economic reforms and its export-led growth model, had a similarly poor performance. It grew by 1.8% in 2012 and is forecast to grow by about 1% in 2013. So, even in its currently weakened state, Russias economy is actually performing better than those of many other countries in the region. Nonetheless, continued stagnation of industrial production will eventually become a pretty serious problem. Oil prices arent going to increase forever, and even if Russia never become an export powerhouse if it wants to play an important international role it cannot have an industrial sector that is permanently frozen in early 2012. The Russian government has actually been following a very prudent and inflation-adverse monetary policy, but it has shown almost no interest in the sort of supply-side reforms that would spur investment and, eventually, improvements in productivity and production. It can, of course, continue to eschew those reforms, but if it does so then it should expect to see more of the same uninspiring performance. Russia always seems to draw out extremely heated opinions: the country is either imploding or poised to take over Europe .