MOSCOW: Greenpeace yesterday accused the Russian authorities of failing to lift piracy charges against the 30 imprisoned crew of its Arctic Sunrise ship as promised and merely adding new hooliganism charges.
The Investigative Committee, which is in charge of the high-profile probe against the 30 arrested on the ship that was protesting Russia’s offshore oil drilling in the Arctic, initially accused the activists of piracy. However, last Wednesday the Committee, Russia’s equivalent of the US FBI, said in a statement that it had reclassified the crime as hooliganism, which carries a lesser sentence.
“The investigation has requalified the charges,” the Committee said in a statement on October 23. The new charge could still be punishable by up to seven years in prison.
Greenpeace however said yesterday that investigators have not presented the jailed activists or their lawyers with any official papers that cancel the previous charge, as would be required to actually remove it formally.
The organisation’s executive director Kumi Naidoo said in a statement that instead of lesser charges, the activists now face potentially even longer jail terms.
“First this saga shocked people across the world, now it has descended into farce,” he said in a statement, adding that the activists are “neither pirates nor hooligans”.