MOSCOW, December 24 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian authorities dropped charges for the first time against Greenpeace activists detained over a protest at a Russian Arctic oil rig in September, following an amnesty adopted last week, the environmental group said on Tuesday.
“The first of the Arctic 30 has had the investigation against him officially dropped. Home is one step closer,” Greenpeace said on its Twitter page.
No official comment from the Russian authorities is available so far.
The amnesty, planned to mark the 20th anniversary of the introduction of Russia’s constitution, applies to people serving sentences of up to five years for non-violent crimes, and who have not previously served time in jail.
The bill had initially stated that amnesty could only be granted after a sentence had been passed, which would have excluded the Greenpeace detainees, but its final version, passed by parliament last week, was extended to individuals on trial.
The group of 28 activists and two journalists, who were detained in September while mounting a protest against oil drilling in the ecologically sensitive Arctic Sea, were on bail and facing trial on hooliganism charges.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his marathon press conference last week that the Arctic 30 would likely be amnestied, but that their custody should serve as a lesson.