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MOSCOW, October 4 (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin knows that piracy charges have been brought against Greenpeace activists who attempted to board the Russian oil rig in Arctic waters, the president's press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
"He (the president) may express his viewpoint but may not give instructions to (the investigators)," Peskov said, adding that the president had no right to interfere in their work.
Putin already commented on the situation on September 25, when speaking at the Arctic forum in Salekhard. He said that it was clear that Greenpeace activists were not pirates, but they violated the international law. "I do not know details of what happened there, but it is quite clear they are not pirates," the president said, noting that formally the activists attempted to seize the platform.
"Our law-enforcement authorities, our border guards did not know who was attempting to seize the platform under the guise of the Greenpeace organization. Particularly against the background of the bloody events in Kenya. Everything could have been. Who is seizing? We do not know, don't we?" Putin said.
"It is clear that the people violated the international laws. They were dangerously close to the platform," he stressed.
The president recommended environmentalists to express their concern at specialized international forums.
As reported October 30, all 30 arrested activists from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise were charged with piracy.
The detectives brought accusations against 14 crewmembers on Wednesday, October 2, the Greenpeace press service told Itar-Tass on Thursday. The other 16 people were brought to the investigation department in the city of Murmansk, Northern Russia, from the detention centre, four of them already faced accusations on Thursday morning. The rest were charged on Thursday. All crew members who took part in the Prirazlomnaya incident are charged with piracy; according to the Criminal Code, guilty parties may be convicted for ten to fifteen years.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace noted that the lawyers intend to appeal the ruling of the court regarding all activists.
Two months under arrest
Murmansk court September 27 ordered 22 of the 30 detained Greenpeace activists of the Arctic Sunrise vessel to be held under arrest for two months. They are charged with piracy after an unsuccessful attempt at boarding the Prirazlomnaya platform to hang a banner protesting oil exploration of the Arctic. Prirazlomaya is one of the major projects of Gazpromneft, a subsidiary of the Russian gas giant Gazprom.
For the rest of the detainees the period of custody has been extended to 72 hours. The North-West Federal District’s investigation department of Russia’s Investigative Committee told Itar-Tass on Friday that the investigation petitioned for placing under arrest all the crewmembers, but the Leninsky Court of Murmansk granted the motion in part.
A department representative promised to advise the public of the further investigation plans later.
Russians Denis Sinyakov and Roman Dolgov were among the first who were placed under arrest for two months. Two other Russians were also arrested. The ship’s captain, U.S. citizen Peter Wilcox will also spend two months in custody.
Russia’s Investigative Committee had previously reported that those arrested for an attack on the Prirazlomnaya platform might be released from custody prior to the expiration of the two-month period ordered by the court. Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass that after the role and culpability of each of the attackers and the degree of social danger of the offence is established, “the investigation may soften the measure of restraint, releasing the detainees even before the expiry of their arrest term.”
Incident at Prirazlomnaya
On September 18, the Arctic Sunrise ship approached the Prirazlomnaya offshore oil drilling platform and the Greenpeace activists who were on the vessel, attempted to board the platform. Their actions were stopped by officers of the Border Guard Department of Murmansk Oblast’s FSB, after which the vessel was taken in tow to Murmansk port. The investigators opened a criminal case over piracy, but they do not rule out that the charges may be softened. A total of 30 crewmembers of the ship - representatives of 19 countries, were detained.