Yesterday, Russian investigators reduced the charges against the crew members of the Greenpeace ship who held a protest against exploitation of natural resources at an oil rig in the Arctic Ocean from piracy to hooliganism. Piracy charges could have resulted in a prison sentence of 15 years while the penalty for hooliganism is 7 years. Russia’s Investigative Committee has presumably lowered these charges in order to avoid any more diplomatic confrontation over the fate of the crew members, who hail from over 18 nations. Members of Greenpeace Russia believe that even the charges of hooliganism should be dropped, as it was a peaceful protest.
After the protest on September 19th, the ship was towed to Murmansk, where everyone on board was charged with piracy and denied bail. President Putin remarked a month ago that piracy was not an appropriate charge but agreed that Russia’s border guards had the right to cut the scaling cables of the activists and fire warning shots. These remarks made have helped reduce the charges, but why not earlier? Why are possible charges of violence against authorities being mentioned if none of the crew members nor activists were armed or resisted upon arrest?