Interfax: Kremlin rights council asks Investigative Committee head to change pre-trial restrictions of Greenpeace activists

Polar Map Showing Permafrost Areas, Adapted From NOAA.gov Graphic

MOSCOW. Nov 12 (Interfax) – The Russian president’s Human Rights Council has asked Investigative Committee Chairman Alexander Bastrykin to consider the possible release of the Arctic Sunrise crewmembers who were detained for staging a protest off Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil rig in the Pechora Sea from custody.

“The Russian president’s Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights is asking you, Alexander Ivanovich [Bastrykin], to consider replacing the environmentalists’ current pre-trial restrictions by other measures, for example a travel ban or bail,” the council said in an address posted on its website on Tuesday.

“Most members of the council will also be ready to act as guarantors for the suspects,” it said.

The request came following an assessment of the situation concerning the detention on September 18 of the Greenpeace activists who attempted to board the Prirazlomnaya oil platform.

“In accordance with the information published on the Investigative Committee’s website, preliminary investigation agencies decided to re-qualify these actions as hooliganism (Article 213 of the Russian Penal Code). Apart from a prison term, this article also carries sanctions such as a fine or a period of community service,” the address said.

The Arctic Sunrise vessel of the Greenpeace international nature conservancy organization was detained in the Pechora Sea on September 19 for an attempt to stage a protest against the drilling done by the Prirazlomnaya oil platform.

The coast guard escorted the Arctic Sunrise to Murmansk on September 24. It had a multinational crew of 30, including four Russians. All were arrested and charged with piracy.

Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on October 22 that the piracy counts had been changed to hooliganism.

Markin said in an online interview with Gazeta.ru on November 7 that some Arctic Sunrise crewmembers would also be charged with resisting arrest.

All 30 Greenpeace activists were remanded into custody.

They were transported from Murmansk’s pre-trial detention facility to St. Petersburg on November 11.

The Arctic Sunrise vessel is currently being held at Murmansk Port.