November 29, 2013

Russia frees the last of 30 Greenpeace detainees

It’s unclear whether the foreigners in the group, including a man with Maine ties, will be allowed to leave Russia before the start of the trial.

By Dmitry Lovetsky
The Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – Russia has freed the last of 30 people detained after a Greenpeace protest in Arctic waters.

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Greenpeace International activist Colin Russell of Australia, center, is greeted as he leaves a jail after being freed on bail in St.Petersburg, Russia, on Friday. Russell is the last one of the 30 people to be granted bail of those on board the Arctic Sunrise ship who were arrested during a Greenpeace protest in Arctic waters. The charges against the accused protesters still stand.

The Associated Press

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Australian Colin Russell walked free from a St. Petersburg jail on Friday, one day after being granted bail of 2 million rubles, or $61,500, in an appeal hearing.

Russell was the first to be brought to court when bail hearings started last week, and was denied bail. All the others were released.

The 30 still face charges of hooliganism, which carries a sentence of up to seven years, after being arrested following an attempt by some of the activists to scale an offshore drilling platform belonging to state-owned natural gas giant Gazprom.

It is unclear whether the foreigners in the group will be allowed to leave Russia before the start of the trial.

U.S. ship captain and veteran Greenpeace activist Peter Willcox, who has ties to Maine, was released on bail Nov. 22.

“I feel like I’m down out of the tree but still in the forest,” Willcox told journalists at the time. “But it’s a big step.”

Willcox is married to Maggy Willcox, publisher of the Islesboro Island News, though he still lives in his native Connecticut.

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