MURMANSK, November 1 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian authorities have now filed hooliganism charges against all the Greenpeace activists detained in mid-September during a protest at a state-owned oil rig in Arctic waters, the environmental organization said on Friday.
"All 30 people were charged with hooliganism. At the same time, the previous charges of piracy have not been lifted,” Greenpeace Russia spokeswoman Maria Favorskaya said.
The activists’ defense team is set to appeal the charges after the UN-backed International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea rules on the issue on November 6.
The hooliganism charges are being pressed after Russian authorities said on October 23 they would drop the initial charges of piracy against the so-called Arctic 30: a group of 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists currently being held in pre-trial detention in the northern Russian city of Murmansk.
Hooliganism is punishable by up to seven years in prison, while the maximum punishment for piracy in Russia is 15 years.
Russia seized the Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, and its multinational crew after several activists tried to scale an offshore oil rig belonging to Russia’s state-run gas giant Gazprom on September 18.