Australian activist Colin Russell has been granted bail today by a St. Petersburg court, the last of the Arctic 30 detainees to be ordered released on bail after taking part in a protest at a Gazprom-operated Arctic oil platform in September. He has spent 71 days in detention.
Like those of the Arctic 30 who were granted bail before him, Colin is to be released upon posting of a 2 million ruble bail ($60,000). Greenpeace International expects to pay the bail today, aiming to have the legal paperwork finalised to allow Colin’s release from prison before the weekend.
Colin’s wife Christine, who was today flying to Russia with the couple’s daughter Madeleine, said:
“This is such wonderful news – my daughter and I are one step closer to being in the arms of my darling Col. I am so relieved that my beautiful, peaceful man will soon be out of detention. I want to thank everyone for their wonderful support during this nightmare of a time. It remains a really difficult time and it’s only when all of the Arctic 30 are free to go home will we be able to properly celebrate. What I am hoping for is that Col, Maddy and I will be home in Woodbridge together by Christmas.”
Arctic campaigner Ben Ayliffe at Greenpeace International said:
“A new chapter starts today. Enough is enough now. These 28 activists and two freelance journalists have finally been freed from prison and reunited with friends and family. But this is not over yet. They still stand accused of a crime they did not commit. They took peaceful action on behalf of us all, standing up against destructive Arctic oil drilling and the onslaught of climate change. Charging them with hooliganism is both an insult and an outrage and none of us will truly be celebrating until they’ve been allowed to return home and the charges against them have been dropped.”
Although the formalities to withdraw the piracy charge laid against the Arctic 30 have not been completed, it has become clear during the bail hearings that the Investigative Committee is no longer planning to pursue this charge. However, the Arctic 30 are still accused of hooliganism and face a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment. It also remains uncertain when the non-Russian nationals can return home and they will for now remain in St Petersburg.
Russia and the Netherlands must report back by December 2 on progress in complying with a binding ruling by the International Tribunal for the law of the Sea (ITLOS) ordering Russia to release the Arctic 30 and the ship Arctic Sunrise upon the posting of a 3.6 million euro bond by the Netherlands.
Donald Rothwell, Professor of International Law at the Australian National University, said:
“Russia cannot pick and choose when it will and will not abide by the law of the sea. As a leading international citizen, it has a clear obligation to follow the Tribunal’s ruling and release the Arctic Sunrise and its crew and to allow them to leave Russia. It should indicate its compliance with the Tribunal’s orders as soon as possible.”
Source: Greenpeace, November 28, 2013