Russia charges Greenpeace activists, videographer with piracy

MOSCOW – Greenpeace said Thursday that four activists and a journalist who were detained after protesting at a Russian oil platform have been charged with piracy and could face up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.

The environmental group said in a statement that activists from Brazil, Britain, Finland and Sweden as well as a British videographer have been formally charged with piracy.

The Russian Coast Guard seized a Greenpeace ship and all 30 people from 18 countries, including two from Canada, on board the Arctic Sunrise following the Sept. 18 protest at an offshore platform in the Arctic owned by Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom.

Paul Ruzycki of Port Colborne, Ont., was serving as the ship’s chief mate and Montrealer Alexandre Paul was also on board.

Greenpeace said in a statement that more activists are expected to be formally charged Thursday.

The investigators said the ship had violated the 500-metre security zone around the platform and that it was carrying equipment whose purpose was still unclear.

Greenpeace has said its ship stayed out of this zone but its inflatable boats used by activists to reach the platform and then scale it posed no danger.

The activists have been in custody in the northern city of Murmansk since last week.

— With files from The Canadian Press.

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