MOSCOW, (PNA/RIA Novosti) — Russian investigators started charging a group of environmental activists Wednesday who were detained aboard a Greenpeace icebreaker during a protest at an offshore oil rig in the Arctic last month, with at least two of them accused of piracy, Greenpeace said.
Most of the 30 people from 18 countries detained from the Arctic Sunrise ship were remanded for two months last week after investigators opened a criminal case on piracy charges related to the incident, in which some of the activists tried to scale the oil rig in international waters in the Pechora Sea on September 18.
“Today, the investigation has begun the process of bringing charges against the suspects over the case into the attack on the Prirazlomnaya oil rig,” an Investigative Committee spokesperson said Wednesday, but did not clarify what the charges were or who was involved.
The piracy charges citied in the original case carry a maximum punishment of up to 15 years in prison.
Argentina’s Foreign Minister Hectór Timerman said he is planning to appeal to the Russian authorities to transfer the detained activists to house arrest under “state guarantees,” Infobae reported on its website Tuesday. Previous media reports said the Arctic Sunrise’s crew included at least two Argentine nationals.
President Vladimir Putin said last week that the Greenpeace activists “are not pirates”, but their actions had contravened international laws.
The NGO’s representatives have insisted that the Arctic Sunrise’s action was a peaceful and legal protest against oil drilling in the area.
The Prirazlomnaya oil rig is owned by Gazprom Neft Shelf, a subsidiary of Russian energy giant Gazprom, that holds the license for the Arctic field.