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Russia drops piracy claims against Greenpeace activists

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MOSCOW — Russia’s main investigative agency said Wednesday that it has dropped piracy charges against jailed Greenpeace activists and charged them instead with hooliganism, which could still mean years in prison.

The Investigative Committee’s statement follows a comment by President Vladimir Putin, who said last month that he did not think that the Greenpeace activists were pirates.

Piracy is punishable by a prison term of up to 15 years, while the specific hooliganism charge being applied now carries a maximum sentence of seven years.

The Investigative Committee also warned that it could file additional charges against the Greenpeace activists, including violence against authorities — punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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