Hooliganism instead of piracy for Greenpeace activists

The Greenpeace ship "Arctic Sunrise" was detained in the Pechora Sea on September 18. (Photo: Will Rose/Greenpeace)

Russia on Wednesday dropped piracy charges against the 30 people involved in a Greenpeace protest against oil drilling, replacing them with charges of hooliganism.


The maximum jail sentence the 30 activists of 15 different nationalities face have been cut from 15 to seven years.

“The investigators have performed a great amount of work to find the real picture of the incident. And today the investigators have decided to change charges for part 2 of article 213 of the RF Penal Code (hooliganism, that is gross violation of public order, expressing obvious disrespect to society, committed using the objects, used as weapons, by an organized group and accompanied by resistance to a representative of the authorities)”, the Federal Investigative Committee said in a statement.

The procedure of bringing new charges to all the detainees has been started in accordance with criminal procedure norms, the statements reads.

In Russian law system, there are two kinds of hooliganism: administrative hooliganism, which carries a maximum of 15 days in prison and a fine, or criminal hooliganism, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years. The 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists - who have become known under the name of “the Arctic 30”, are probably charges with the latter.

President Putin said in a comment shortly after the arrest of the Greenpeace activists that they “obliviously are not pirates”, but that they still formally tried to take over the platform.

The committee said the investigation was continuing and underlined that some of the detainees might be charged with other serious crimes like use of violence against a representative of the authorities.

«Hooliganism hardly better than piracy»
Greenpeace called the hooliganism charge “nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest” and said the new charges are still wildly disproportionate: “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 organization’s web site reads.

Russia on Wednesday declared that it will not attend when the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea starts hearings in the “Arctic Sunrise” case, as BarentsObserver reported.

The lawsuit, lodged by The Netherlands, claims that Russia has violated the right to freedom of navigation by boarding the Greenpeace vessel in Russia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, but outside territorial waters.