Russia formally drops criminal charges against Arctic 30 Greenpeace activists

The protesters and two freelance journalists, including six Britons - were arrested after Russian authorities boarded their ship, the Arctic Sunrise, during an anti-drilling demonstration in September

Russia has formally dropped criminal charges against Greenpeace activists arrested in a protest over Arctic oil drilling on Christmas day, under a Kremlin amnesty extended to all 30 who had been facing up to seven years in jail if found guilty.

Greenpeace said the group have been asked to attend a meeting at the investigative committee in Russia, where the criminal case against them is being "dropped en masse". Approximately 20 have been processed so far, and more are expected to be processed later today.

The Arctic 30 - 28 activists and two freelance journalists, including six Britons were awaiting trial on hooliganism charges, which carry a maximum sentence of seven years, after being detained aboard the Arctic Sunrise ship during the protest on 18 September. They were initially charged with piracy, which carries a more severe sentence of 15 years imprisonment.

Greenpeace said it was drawing attention to Shell and its Russian partner Gazprom's planned joint venture to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Their next step is securing exit visas in their passports before the non-Russians are free to leave the country and be reunited with their families.

A meeting with the Federal Migration Service is scheduled for later today and the Arctic 30 are expected to leave Russia "in the coming days", Greenpeace said.

Frank Hewetson from the UK said: "Well, that was an extremely odd Christmas morning."

The Arctic 30 have lived together in a St Petersburg hotel since being bailed nearly five weeks ago.

After their meetings they will have Christmas dinner together - possibly the last time they will all be together after a saga that started with a peaceful protest at an Arctic oil rig before they were jailed for two months.

The Arctic 30 were initially detained in the Russian port city of Murmansk before being moved to St Petersburg and eventually bailed.

A global campaign to free the group, spearheaded by their families and Greenpeace, put pressure on the Russian government to release them.

The amnesty was proposed by President Vladimir Putin and passed unanimously by the State Duma on Wednesday.

The amnesty also applied to the two members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot who were sentenced to two years in prison colonies after a 2012 protest in a Moscow cathedral and freed on Monday after serving 18 months of their sentence. Member Maria Alyokhina said she believed the amnesty was simply a PR stunt ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Yesterday just one of the 30 - Anthony Perrett, from Newport in South Wales - had proceedings against him dropped. Today the other 29 are joining him.

After learning Russian authorities had dropped his case, the activist said he was looking forward to getting home, even though he would not make it in time for Christmas.

"It's time to go home, it's time to get back to Wales, and I just got one big step closer," he said.

"I took peaceful action to defend a fragile region under profound threat and instead I was seized by armed commandos at sea and spent two months in detention."

But Mr Perrett said the campaign was "not over yet".

"The Arctic is melting before our eyes and yet the oil companies are lining up to profit from its destruction," he said.

"This is why I took action, to expose them and mobilise people to demand Arctic protection. I am proud of what I did."

Peter Willcox, American captain of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, said: "This is the day we've been waiting for since our ship was boarded by armed commandos almost three months ago.

"I'm pleased and relieved the charges have been dropped, but we should not have been charged at all.

"We have already discovered enough oil to dangerously heat the planet and we took action to prevent that. Giving the planet to the oil and coal companies is not an option."

Additional reporting by Press Association

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people
Sport
Diego Costa, Ross Barkley, Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers, Alan Pardew and Christian Eriksen
footballRodgers is right to be looking over his shoulder, while something must be done about diving
Life and Style
gaming
Arts and Entertainment
Carl Barat and Pete Dohrety in an image from the forthcoming Libertines short film
filmsPete Doherty and Carl Barat are busy working on songs for a third album
Arts and Entertainment
films
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Engineer - Smart Home / IoT Devices

£32500 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Electronic Engineer is requi...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Solicitor - Leicester

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: LEICESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL SOLICITOR- An o...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer - 1st Line

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support organisation focuses on ...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst (Windows, Active Directory) - London £26k

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Support Analyst / IT Support Analys...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible