Russia’s Investigative Committee is dropping criminal charges against all 30 Greenpeace activists arrested in September for a protest against Arctic oil drilling by state-run OAO Gazprom, the group said.
The first of the activists, Anthony Perrett, had proceedings against him dropped yesterday, and cases against the 29 others will be halted today, Greenpeace said in e-mailed statement. The crew of Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise, including American captain Peter Willcox, are being freed as part of an amnesty offered by President Vladimir Putin earlier this month.
“I don’t see it as a gift” for Christmas, Camila Speziale, one the activists, said in the Greenpeace statement. “We should not have to receive this ‘gift’ at all, we should be in our homes with our families today, it is ridiculous that we were arrested for a peaceful protest.”
Speziale, from Argentina, vowed to continue demonstrating against Arctic oil drilling.
Putin, facing criticism in Europe and the U.S. ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, also released members of the Pussy Riot punk band earlier this week under the amnesty in honor of the 20th anniversary of Russia’s constitution. Separately, Putin also pardoned former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky last week, sending him to Germany.
Later today, the Greenpeace protesters will meet with Federal Migration Service officials to seek exit visas and will probably leave Russia in the next few days, according to the statement.