Russian authorities fail to drop piracy charges against Arctic 30

Despite announcement that charges would be reduced for Greenpeace activists, they now appear to have been increased

Prosecutors in Russia have failed to lift charges of piracy against the group of Greenpeace activists who have come to be known as the Arctic 30.


Russia’s Investigative Committee announced last week that the piracy charges – which carry a 15-year jail sentence – would be replaced with charges of hooliganism. But when the thirty detainees were brought before the Committee over the course of this week, the piracy charge was not withdrawn. Instead, each activist was served with both the piracy and hooliganism charges. 


Danish activist Anne Mie Roer Jensen is among those who now stand accused of both offences, which carry a maximum sentence of 15 and seven years, respectively.


“As things stand the Russian authorities propose to jail 30 men and women for maybe 20 years because two peaceful protesters tried to hang a small yellow banner from the side of a 500,00 tonne oil platform," said Greenpeace executive head Kumi Naidoo. "This has now descended into farce. The legal hammer now being wielded against them says so much more about those who have brought these charges than it does about the prisoners."


Naidoo said that the protestors were neither pirates nor hooligans and should be released immediately.


No pressure from Villy
Next Wednesday, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) will hear the case brought by the Netherlands demanding the release of the activists and the return of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.


The 28 Greenpeace activists, a freelance photographer and a videographer, were charged with piracy by the Investigative Committee following a protest against Arctic oil drilling at a Gazprom oil platform in the Pechora Sea. 


Since the Arctic Sunrise was seized seven weeks ago, world leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commissioner Janez Poto?nik have expressed their concern for the fate of the Arctic 30


Foreign Minister Villy Søvndal (SF), said that he won’t place political pressure on the Russian government over the charges against Jensen.


Greenpeace said that there are diplomatic options that should be pursued.


“We are not demanding a full-scale diplomatic effort, but the government should at least state that the charges are completely absurd and are politically motivated,” Greenpeace spokesperson Jon Burgwald told The Copenhagen Post. “They need to investigate ways of letting the Russian government know that it is completely unacceptable.”

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