(OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP/Getty Images) Reuters 12:47 p.m. EDT, October 14, 2013 MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia denied bail on Monday to the American captain of a Greenpeace ship and two other foreign activists who are among 30 environmentalists arrested on charges of piracy over a protest at an Arctic drilling platform. Captain Peter Willcox and activists David John Haussmann, 49, of New Zealand and Camila Speziale, 21, who has Italian and Argentinian citizenship, had appealed against an order that they be held in pre-trial detention until late November. A decision on another Arctic Sunrise crew member, Cristian D’Alessandro of Italy, was put off until Tuesday, when bail hearings for a Briton and a Swiss activist are also planned. A court in the northern port city of Murmansk has already denied bail to two Britons and four Russians held over the September 18 protest in which activists tried to scale the Prirazlomnaya oil rig and security forces later boarded the Greenpeace ship. 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. Other countries and firms seeking to exploit Arctic energy resources face similar concerns from environmentalists, who fear they will destroy a pristine ecosystem. Willcox, 60, a veteran campaigner who was at the helm of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior when it was bombed and sunk by the French secret service in 1985, denied the charges against him in court. “I have been doing this for 40 years and never faced a charge like this,” the state-run Russian news agency RIA quoted him as saying. “If I could start everything over, I would stay in New York.” Greenpeace says the protest at the rig owned by state-controlled Russian energy company Gazprom was peaceful and calls the piracy charges absurd and unfounded. “He is a hero not a pirate,” Willcox’s wife, Maggie, said in a statement. “I appeal to the common sense and conscience of the Russian authorities to let my husband and the rest of the people from the Arctic Sunrise come home.” President Vladimir Putin has said the activists were not pirates but that they had violated international law. The head of the Kremlin’s human rights advisory body has said he would ask prosecutors to withdraw the piracy charges. Investigators have said more charges will be pressed against some protesters as drugs and other suspect items had been found on the ship. Greenpeace denies there were illegal items aboard.
Leaving the key rate unchanged, the central bank placed 500 billion rubles in three-month loans backed by non-marketable assets, the regulator said in a separate website statement. All the funds were placed at a cutoff rate of 5.76 percent while 25 banks submitted bids at yields ranging from the minimum rate of 5.75 percent to 6.65 percent. Demand reached 563 billion rubles. The central bank last month increased its inflation (RUCPIYOY) target for next year to 5 percent, plus or minus 1.5 percentage points, from 4.5 percent, after the government backtracked on a plan to halt all increases in regulated prices for utilities and monopolies such as OAO Russian Railways. Inflation Goals Still-elevated expectations for future inflation must come down, even as the pace of economic growth remains low, Nabiullina told lawmakers Oct. 8. For Russians, inflation is one of the biggest concerns along with housing and utilities, according to a poll published Sept. 18 by the state-run All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion . The dynamics of the key macroeconomic indicators suggested that the pace of economic growth remained low, the regulator said in its statement. More pronounced downward trends in inflation expectations need to be formed to ensure the achievement of inflation goals in the medium term. Bank Rossii is signaling more willingness to reduce rates than after last months meeting, according to Alexander Morozov , Moscow-based chief economist for Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Baltic states at HSBC Holdings Plc. More Confident The central bank feels more confident in the inflation trends both for this year and next, Morozov said by phone. December remains more likely for a rate cut than November. Inflation slowed to 6.1 percent in September from 6.5 percent in August. Core inflation , which excludes volatile costs such as energy, remained at 5.5 percent. Russias $2 trillion economy expanded 1.2 percent from a year earlier in the second quarter, its worst showing since a contraction in the last three months of 2009. The central banks emphasis on waiting for more pronounced improvements in inflation expectations is the key phrase in todays policy statement, according to Tatiana Orlova, senior economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London .
Russia Holds Rates as Nabiullina Looks Past Slowing Economy
OAO Gazprom, the natural gas export monopoly, increased 1.5 percent to 155 rubles. OAO Sberbank, the countrys biggest lender, added 0.8 percent to 103.85 rubles. Democrat and Republican Senate leaders made reference to progress in talks on a deal to suspend the debt ceiling through Feb. 7 and fund the government through Jan. 15. The U.S. will not default, former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said in Seoul today. Crude, Russias main export earner, was steady at $102.37 in New York. The market has received good news that theres been progress in U.S. government talks, Alexander Kostyukov, an analyst at Veles Capital, said by phone from Moscow. A U.S. default would be devastating for investors appetite for riskier markets, like Russia . Russian equities have the cheapest valuations among 21 emerging economies monitored by Bloomberg, with shares on the index trading at 4.5 times projected 12-month earnings, compared with a multiple of 10.7 for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index. Ten-day price swings on the Micex sank to 11.758, the lowest since Sept.