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Greenpeace Activists Face New Russian Charges, Including Drug Possession

A general view from October 4 of the pretrial detention center where some of the jailed Greenpeace activists are being held, in the city of Apatity.
Russian authorities say arrested Greenpeace activists may face additional charges, including illegal drug possession.

An Investigative Committee spokesman said on October 9 that investigators were analyzing equipment and "drug substances" confiscated from the Greenpeace's "Artic Sunrise" icebreaker.

Greenpeace International responded in a statement by saying that "any claim that illegal drugs were found is a smear, it's a fabrication, pure and simple."

"We can only assume the Russian authorities are referring to the medical supplies that our ships are obliged to carry under maritime law," the group said. It added that the vessel's safe containing medical supplies "was broken into by the Russian authorities during the searching of the ship."

The Russian Investigative Committee spokesman said some of the 30 arrested activists will be held liable for preventing border guards from carrying out their duties.

The activists, including citizens of 18 countries, have been held since their ship was seized by the Russian coast guard after two activists tried to scale a Gazprom offshore drilling platform last month.

Last week, they were charged with piracy and could face of up to 15 years in jail. Human rights groups have called for their immediate release.

Russian President Vladimir Putin conceded to reporters on September 25 that the activists were "obviously not pirates."

Greenpeace insists Russian authorities carried out "an illegal boarding of the Arctic Sunrise in international waters" before seizing the vessel and towing it to Murmansk.

In a statement issued on October 9, the head of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, said he was ready to travel to Moscow at any moment to try to secure the release of the activists.

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Based on reporting by ITAR-TASS, Interfax, and RFE/RL