MOSCOW, October 11 (RIA Novosti) – A human rights adviser to the Kremlin has called for prosecutors to drop piracy charges against a group of Greenpeace activists, saying the case is tantamount to accusing them of gang-raping an oil platform.
Mikhail Fedotov said Thursday that prosecutors had adopted an arbitrary approach to applying the criminal code.
“Might as well have charged them with attempted gang rape of an oil platform,” Fedotov said.
Thirty Greenpeace activists were detained last month during a high-seas protest after several of them attempted to climb up an Arctic oil rig operated by energy giant Gazprom.
Under Russian law, they could face up to 15 years in prison.
Fedotov’s remarks echo an opinion expressed by President Vladimir Putin in late September, when he said that the protestors were not pirates.
Putin said the activists had violated international law by attempting to seize the platform, however. Authorities acted against the Greenpeace group out of concern for security, he said.
Fedotov, who heads the Kremlin’s human rights council, said that as a lawyer it was clear to him that the protestors did not intend to forcibly seize the oil platform.
He said his council would personally urge the Prosecutor General’s Office to drop the piracy charges.
The head of the Investigative Committee, a body analogous to the FBI, earlier this week threatened to add drug charges against the activists, saying that opiates were found on board the Greenpeace ship used in the protest.
“The charge already pressed against all [the detainees] will presumably be modified,” Vladimir Markin said Wednesday.
Greenpeace quickly issued a statement that the opiates were likely “medical supplies that our ships are obliged to carry under maritime law.”
The group said it has a strict policy against recreational drugs on board its vessels.