MOSCOW, October 24 (RIA Novosti) – Defense lawyers for activists held on board a Greenpeace ship last month will insist that all charges leveled by the Russian authorities against them be dropped, the organization’s spokesman said Thursday after the original piracy charges were reduced to hooliganism.
Russia’s investigators said Wednesday they had dropped piracy charges against 28 environmental activists and two freelance journalists detained last month aboard Greenpeace’s icebreaker Arctic Sea.
They will be charged instead with hooliganism, punishable by up to seven years in jail, rather than up to 15 years that they could have received for piracy, investigators said.
Greenpeace Russia’s spokesman Mikhail Kreindlin said Thursday the organization welcomed the apparent climb-down in the case, but would urge the court to drop the charges altogether.
“We consider the hooliganism charges as absurd as the piracy ones, because the activists did not carry out any actions violating public order,” Kreindlin told RIA Novosti.
He said that as of Thursday morning, the activists’ defense lawyers had not yet received any official notification confirming the alteration of the charges in the case.
The Russian authorities seized the Arctic Sunrise icebreaker and arrested all 30 on board on September 18 after a group of activists tried to scale an oil rig operated by Russia’s Gazprom Neft Shelf in the Pechora Sea.
Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee also said Wednesday that some members of the group could face charges of using force against state officials.