29 Oct 2013

Australian detained in Russia charged with hooliganism

4:24 pm on 29 October 2013

Greenpeace says an Australian protester detained in Russia has been formally charged with hooliganism.

Colin Russell and 29 other activists including two New Zealanders David Haussmann and Jonathan Beauchamp were initially charged with piracy in September after two of them attempted to climb a Russian oil rig in the Arctic, the ABC reports.

Last week, authorities said they plan to drop the piracy charges, but replace them with allegations of hooliganism, which carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

Greenpeace has described them as fantasy charges which bear no relation to reality.

Mr Russell, 59, has been in custody since 18 September when armed Russian border guards stormed their ship, the Arctic Sunrise.

The activists had been protesting against an oil exploration rig set up in the Arctic by Russian company Gazprom.