Earlier this evening Russian authorities offered the Arctic 30 — currently being held in a freezing jail in Murmansk — what looked like a legal olive branch by dropping piracy charges and replacing them with ones of "hooliganism."
On the face of it, and compared to piracy, hooliganism sounds innocuous enough, more like a crime of youthful over-exuberance, akin to graffiti or streaking at a football match.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Russia has simply dropped one serious charge and replaced it with another that still carries the very real prospect of the Arctic 30 languishing in jail for up to seven years.
In Russia, there are two kinds of hooliganism: administrative hooliganism, which carries a maximum of 15 days in prison and a fine, or criminal hooliganism, which carries ... Read more >