Arctic 30 now facing hooliganism charges in addition to piracy charges, a respective 15 & 7 years in jail
Russian authorities today formally charged a Greenpeace International activist with hooliganism, a crime that carries a maximum seven year jail term and has been described by the European Parliament as a threat to freedom of expression and demonstration.
Andrey Allakhverdov (Russia) was charged with hooliganism under article 213, part 2 of the Russian Criminal Code. Russian authorities have also started charging other members of the Arctic 30, who include 28 Greenpeace International activists plus a freelance videographer and a freelance photographer, with hooliganism.
Vladimir Markin, the chief spokesman for Russia's Investigative Committee, said all 30 activists will be charged.
"The Arctic 30 are innocent of all charges. There can be no justification for locking them up in a cell in Murmansk. This was an entirely peaceful protest in international waters to shine a light on Gazprom's reckless Arctic oil drilling plans. Eleven warning shots were fired across the Arctic Sunrise, bullets were fired into the water next to the protesters, they were threatened with guns and knives and detained on trumped up charges to defend Gazprom’s oil interests. Who are the real hooligans here?” said Ben Ayliffe, head of the Arctic oil campaign at Greenpeace International.
"Among the detainees is a young woman who, before going to the Arctic, helped collect clothes and books for underprivileged children. Others are family members, sisters and fathers. These people are men and women with a conscience, and to brand them hooligans only cheapens the word.”
Hooliganism is a serious and wildly disproportionate charge. Although Russia's Investigative Committee yesterday finally agreed with international legal experts and President Putin himself when he stated the Arctic 30 would no longer be charged with piracy, they did not officially drop the charge today against Allakhverdov. He is therefore presently charged with both piracy and hooliganism.I
The Arctic 30 were illegally arrested and Greenpeace International is calling for them to be immediately released. Peaceful protesters and independent journalists are neither pirates nor hooligans.