The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation has decided today to reclassify the crimes which have been charged against the “Arctic 30” Greenpeace activists involved in the “attack” on the oil and gas production platform “Prirazlomnaya” in the Barents Sea last month.
The committee has deemed that instead of piracy, the lesser charge of hooliganism is more appropriate. According to Russian law, hooliganism “is a gross violation of public order, expressing clear disrespect for society, committed with the use of objects used as weapons, organized group that is associated with resistance to authority.”
In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted at an arctic forum, ““It is absolutely evident that they are, of course, not pirates.”
“The Arctic 30 are no more hooligans than they were pirates. This is still a wildly disproportionate charge that carries up to seven years in jail. It represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest. Those brave men and women went to the Arctic armed with nothing more than a desire to shine a light on a reckless business. They should be with their families, not in a prison in Murmansk.
“We will contest the trumped up charge of hooliganism as strongly as we contested the piracy allegations. They are both fantasy charges that bear no relation to reality. The Arctic 30 protested peacefully against Gazprom’s dangerous oil drilling and should be free.
“The Investigative Committee also say they may charge some activists with use of force against officials, carrying up to ten years in jail. Greenpeace has a 42 year history of entirely peaceful activism, it is a cheap libel to accuse those campaigners of doing anything other than protesting peacefully, they arrived at that oil rig in a ship painted with a dove and a rainbow. Our ship was seized by men with knives and guns, while the Arctic 30 raised their arms. They should be released immediately.”