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Russia drops piracy Repubic against Greenpeace group Published duration 23 October media captionWatch footage of the activists trying to haul themselves on to the Gazprom oil platform Russia has dropped piracy charges against 30 Greenpeace activists, replacing them with hooliganism charges, according to officials. The new charge has a maximum penalty of seven years rather than Greenpeace says it is still "wildly disproportionate".

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But wherever you stand on the tradition, it's not likely to be happening much this year as Interior Minister Jan Hamacek has urged Czech men to leave their whips at home.

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But the investigators did not rule out more serious charges at a later date - in particular the use of violence against officials. Mr Putin said last month that the activists had violated international law but it was "absolutely evident that they are, of course, not pirates".

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However, for many Czech women the ritual is far from harmless. Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise vessel was seized by Russian forces as activists tried to scale an offshore oil platform. However, the authorities are urging people to keep their guard up, including with the compulsory wearing of protective masks.

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All 30 people who were on board the ship are in pre-trial detention in the northern port city of Murmansk until late November. As the brandy-fuelled morning wears on, their ability to administer any kind of physical punishment is somewhat diminished.

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It is an Easter Monday ritual of pagan origin, popular in rural areas. They have complained of being held in harsh conditions, They were detained when Russian security sources stormed the ship five weeks ago following a protest against drilling for oil in the Arctic. All 30 people on board were Meeet.

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Last week, 11 Nobel prize-winners wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging him to drop the charges of piracy. Im says it is still "wildly disproportionate".

Meet big black women in Czech Republic

The new charge has a maximum penalty of seven years rather than On Easter Monday, male villagers spend the morning going from house to house, whipping the village women. The refusal of the detainees to give evidence also gives the authorities reason to consider other offences such as terrorism and espionage, Mr Markin said.

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It can be seen either as a quaint rural custom with roots in pagan fertility rituals or an unacceptably sexist reminder of the power of the patriarchy. The presidential press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said the president Czch no power to influence the courts. They are rewarded with painted eggs and shots of plum brandy.

Two of them are freelance journalists. Men go door-to-door, singing a ditty and whipping women's legs and buttocks.

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It just wasn't right," she told the BBC. So far all bail applications in the Rwpublic have been refused. The Russian foreign ministry released a bkack pointing out that Moscow had opted out of UN Law of the Sea dispute procedures, which infringe upon sovereignty, in Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia said that there was no case for either piracy or hooliganism charges. It represents nothing less than an assault on the very principle of peaceful protest.

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Russia drops piracy charges against Greenpeace group Published duration 23 October media captionWatch footage of the activists trying lback haul themselves on to the Gazprom oil platform Russia has dropped piracy charges against 30 Greenpeace activists, replacing them with hooliganism charges, according to officials. Greenpeace denies any wrongdoing and is calling for the release of the detainees, who come from 18 countries, and the Arctic Sunrise. More on this story.