Russia reduces piracy charges against Greenpeace crew to 'hooliganism'

25.10.2013 15:24

A Russian court has dropped piracy
charges against the crew of a
Greenpeace ship detained last month
in the Arctic Circle, Russian authorities
and Greenpeace said Wednesday.
Russian officials have been under
intense international pressure since the
detention on Sept. 19 of the U.S.
captain of the Arctic Sunrise and 27
other Greenpeace members who
staged a protest at the Prirazlomnaya
oil rig, which Gazprom, the state oil
company, operates in the Arctic Ocean
near the tiny settlement of Verandey.
The crew were accompanied by two
freelance journalists, who were also
Russia's Federal Investigative
Committee said in a statement
Wednesday that the piracy charges —
which carried maximum sentences of
15 years in prison — had been
replaced with charges of criminal
hooliganism, which carry maximum
seven-year terms.
At the same time, the Foreign Ministry
said in a separate statement that it was
"open to the settlement" of the case,
the state news agency RIA Novosti
reported Wednesday .
The statements came as Russia rejected
the Netherlands' request to call a
meeting of the International Tribunal
for the Law of the Sea to resolve the
deadlock over the Greenpeace
icebreaker, the Arctic Sunrise, some of
whose crew tried to climb the oil rig to
protest offshore drilling.