Friday, October 25, 2013

Pirates No More – But Still Walking The Plank

Piracy charges have been dropped against 30 Greenpeace activists (including two NZers) being held in Russia.
But now they're charged with hooliganism, which in Russia gets you a max of seven years' prison, instead of the 15 for piracy.
The environmentalists were arrested in September after the Ruskies boarded their vessel Arctic Sunrise in international waters. The activists were protesting oil-drilling in Arctic waters, and had tried to board a drilling platform owned by gas giant Gazprom.
Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia says the new charges are still "wildly disproportionate", and the Arctic 30 are "no more hooligans than they were pirates". He says Greenpeace will contest the
The ghosts of the KGB
still haunt Russia...
charges of hooliganism as strongly as it protested the piracy charges.
Russia's main investigative agency, The Investigative Committee, has also suggested it may charge some of the eco-warriors with use-of-force against officials, which carries a max 10yr.sentence.
Greenpeace Netherlands spokesman Kees Kodde says the Dutch govt has started legal proceedings against the Russian govt at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
It should be noted that the punk group Pussy Riot, still languishing in a Russian jail since Aug.2012, were also accused of hooliganism...

PS: 26 Oct.2013 The change from piracy to hooliganism is NOT a reduction of charges (as some media say). It's anything BUT and the Arctic 30 may be in greater difficulties. Under Russian law, hooliganism is defined as "a gross violation of public order, expressing clear disrespect for society, committed with the use of objects used as weapons, organised group that is associated with resistance to authority".
This means the Ruskies bring all charges under Russian Law ONLY - they do not have to prove an act of piracy under International Maritime Law. This will make the case easier for Russia to prove...and much harder for Greenpeace to escape from, without major international pressure!

PPS: 13 Nov.2013 - Activists moved from Murmansk to a St Peterburg prison.
PPPS: 20 Dec.2013 - In a shock move, Prez Putin has pardoned the 30 Greenpeace activists, as well as the members of Pussy Riot and a former oil tycoon/political rival!!! A Christmas miracle?

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