The main investigative agency in Russia says it has dropped piracy charges against jailed Greenpeace activists. Captain Peter Willcox of Norwalk and 27 other activists have been charged with "hooliganism" instead.
The hooliganism charge carries a maximum of seven years in prison, down from the 15 years that could accompany a piracy charge, according to English-language Russian news outlet RT.
This move follows a comment last month by President Vladimir Putin, who questioned the piracy charge against the activists. The activists have been held since their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, was seized by the Russian coast guard after protesting outside a Gazprom-owned oil platform on September 18. They were protesting arctic drilling by the oil giant.
Charges of "hooliganism" were previously filed against members of the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot. According to Slate, the charge is defined as “the flagrant violation of public order expressed by a clear disrespect for society.”
Information from the Associated Press included in this report.