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    Russia Charges Greenpeace Activists With Piracy

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    Russian investigators on Wednesday started charging a group of environmental activists detained aboard a Greenpeace icebreaker during their protest at an offshore oil rig in the Arctic last month, with at least 14 of the detainees formally charged with piracy, Greenpeace said.

    MOSCOW, October 2 (RIA Novosti) – Russian investigators on Wednesday started charging a group of environmental activists detained aboard a Greenpeace icebreaker during their protest at an offshore oil rig in the Arctic last month, with at least 14 of the detainees formally charged with piracy, Greenpeace said.

    All 30 people detained from the Arctic Sunrise ship – from 18 countries – have been placed in jail for two months to await court hearings after investigators opened a criminal case on piracy charges related to the September 18 incident, in which some of the activists tried to scale the Russian oil rig in international waters in the Pechora Sea.

    A British freelance videographer and activists from Brazil, Britain, Poland and Ukraine were among the 14 charged with piracy, Greenpeace said Wednesday. The group's lawyers said they are planning to appeal.

    “Today, the investigation has begun the process of bringing charges against the suspects over the case into the attack on the Prirazlomnaya oil rig,” an Investigative Committee spokesperson said Wednesday, but did not clarify what the charges were or who was involved.

    The piracy charges cited in the original case carry a maximum punishment of up to 15 years in prison.

    Argentina’s Foreign Minister Hectór Timerman said he is planning to appeal to the Russian authorities to transfer the detained activists to house arrest under “state guarantees,” the country's Infobae online newspaper reported Tuesday. Previous media reports said the Arctic Sunrise’s crew included at least two Argentinian nationals.

    The NGO’s representatives have insisted that the Arctic Sunrise’s action was a peaceful and legal protest against oil drilling in the area.

    Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday that in the wake of the Arctic incident, the Russian authorities should introduce stricter punishments for “unsanctioned access to oil and gas facilities, because those are especially dangerous objects.”

     

    President Vladimir Putin said last week that the Greenpeace activists "are not pirates," but their actions had contravened international laws.

    The NGO’s representatives have insisted that the Arctic Sunrise’s action was a peaceful and legal protest against oil drilling in the area.

    The Prirazlomnaya oil rig is owned by Gazprom Neft Shelf, a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, that holds the license for the Arctic field.

    Updates the number of those charged; clarifies legal terminology in first paragraph; identifies Infobae.

     

    Tags:
    Vladimir Putin, Arctic Sunrise, piracy, NGO, Greenpeace, Russian Investigative Committee, Gazprom, Hectór Timerman, Arctic, Argentina
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