The members of the Arctic Sunrise vessel operated by Greenpeace, who were recently arrested in Russia on charges of piracy and hooliganism following an attempt to post a protest banner on a Russian oil rig in the Pechora Sea, are still being held at a Murmansk detention facility and have not been transported to St. Petersburg, contrary to Friday reports.
"All of them are at the Murmansk city pretrial detention center," the center told Interfax on Saturday.
A detention center spokesperson told Interfax that he was unaware whether the Greenpeace activists would ever be transferred to St. Petersburg.
It was reported on Friday that the Greenpeace activists would be transferred to St. Petersburg from Murmansk to provide them with better conditions.
"This is being done to improve the inmates' living conditions. Detention facilities in St. Petersburg are equipped better. St. Petersburg can also offer a larger number of detention centers for such a large group of suspects," a source told Interfax.
Greenpeace press secretary Maria Favorskaya told Interfax earlier that all the 30 environmentalists and journalists detained in the case could be transferred from Murmansk to St. Petersburg.
The Arctic Sunrise crewmembers' defense attorneys said earlier in court that the jurisdiction principles had been violated when the decision to detain the suspects was being made.
They argued that the incident was being handled by the Northeastern Department of the Russian Investigative Committee in St. Petersburg, and therefore all decisions on pretrial restrictive measures imposed on the activists must be made by a St. Petersburg court.
The Arctic Sunrise was stopped in the Pechora Sea on September 19 after some Greenpeace environmentalists attempted to protest against oil extraction at the Prirazlomnaya drilling platform.
The Arctic Sunrise with a 30-member international crew, among them four Russians, was towed to Murmansk on September 24. All of these people were later arrested and charged with piracy.
Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on October 22 that the piracy charges had been re-qualified into hooliganism charges. The process of bringing new charges against the defendants was completed on November 1. However, the piracy charges were not lifted.
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