Greenpeace activists aren't pirates—they are hooligans, according to Russian officials who downsized their charges of piracy against the "Arctic 30" protesters who were detained by the Russian Coast Guard last month after attempting to scale the sides of a Russian Arctic drilling platform.
While the shift announced Wednesday reduces the potential sentencing of the 30 respective environmental protesters from 15 years in prison to 7 years in a penal colony, Greenpeace representatives were quick to point out the excessiveness in any sentence against those who partook in what they say was a peaceful protest.
"The Arctic 30 are no more hooligans than they were pirates," said Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia.
This is still a wildly disproportionate charge that carries up to seven years in jail. It represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest. Those brave men and women went to the Arctic armed with nothing more than a desire to shine a light on a reckless business. They should be with their families, not in a prison in Murmansk. [...]
Greenpeace has a 42 year history of entirely peaceful activism, it is a cheap libel to accuse those campaigners of doing anything other than protesting peacefully, they arrived at that oil rig in a ship painted with a dove and a rainbow. Our ship was seized by men with knives and guns, while the Arctic 30 raised their arms. They should be released immediately.
All members of the Arctic 30 have been denied bail and have been waiting in a Murmansk prison since their arrest.
As the crew members come from 18 different countries, the charges issued by Russia's Investigative Committee has garnered international criticism, vigils for those detained, and a letter sent by 11 Nobel laureates to the Russian government.