October 25, 2014
MOSCOW (AP) - Russia's main investigative agency says it has dropped piracy charges against jailed Greenpeace activists and charged them with hooliganism instead.
The Investigative Committee's statement Wednesday appears to herald a quick release of the activists, who were arrested last month for a protest at Russian oil rig in the Arctic. The piracy charges carry a 15-year prison term, while hooliganism is usually punished by 15 days in jail or a fine.
The move follows a comment by President Vladimir Putin, who said last month that he doesn't think the Greenpeace activists are pirates.
A group of 28 Greenpeace activists, a Russian photographer and a British videographer have been held since their ship, the "Arctic Sunrise" was seized by the Russian coast guard after protesting outside a Gazprom-owned oil rig Sept. 18.
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