The investigators had reassessed the protest of the crew of the ship "arctic sunrise" against an oil platform of the russian state corporation gazprom in the arctic. This was announced by the spokesman of the moscow investigation department, vladimir markin, on wednesday. He announced new indictments against the detainees in murmansk.
The 28 activists and 2 reporters now face a maximum of seven years in prison, compared to 15 years previously. The indictment had been criticized internationally as completely exaggerated. Even the head of the kremlin, vladimir putin, had said shortly after the arrest in september that he did not consider the peaceful environmentalists to be pirates.
Most recently, german chancellor angela merkel (CDU) also called for a solution in a telephone conversation with putin. Greenpeace called for the charges to be dropped altogether after the prosecutors conceded for the first time. "There is simply no crime here at all," said greenpeace program director iwan blokov. The overall situation is bleak.
Investigators criticized greenpeace for refusing to clarify the crime. Because the activists did not testify, the trial is likely to drag on, markin said. The motives for the crime had to be clarified, including possible terrorism and espionage, he said. In case of serious crime the punishment is even higher than for piracy.
The netherlands continues to demand the immediate release of the men and women, according to an announcement made by the aube ministry in the hague this evening. The country had learned through the media that the prosecutors in the russian case of murmansk had dropped the charge of piracy and replaced it with rowdyism. There is no official confirmation from russia yet.
As the flag state of the ship, the netherlands intervened in the international tribunal for the law of the sea in hamburg to obtain the release of the crew members and the surrender of the "arctic sunrise". However, the russian auben ministry refused to cooperate in the procedure. The court plans to schedule a hearing in the coming days. Hamburger may hear case of "arctic sunrise" without moscow’s involvement.
The green group in the european parliament called on the eu’s representative catherine ashton to intervene personally on behalf of the crew. "It must work for the immediate release of the activists and ensure that all criminal charges against them are dropped," the group’s chairwoman, rebecca harms, said in brussel.