Russia to release seven activists
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — A Russian court granted bail today to Greenpeace protesters from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Italy, New Zealand and Poland, the first group of foreign activists eligible for release from jail while awaiting trial for participating in a demonstration near a Russian oil rig.
The Primorsky court in St. Petersburg set bail at $61,500 each for the seven Greenpeace activists. The court said they will be released, if the bail is paid within the next four days.
One of the activists, Miguel Orsi of Argentina, clutched a photograph of his baby daughter and cried upon hearing the judge’s decision. Greenpeace said it would make money available as soon as possible.
Judges in Greenpeace hearings had previously agreed with prosecutors that the foreign activists in the case were a flight risk, but the Primorsky court did not say whether the seven could leave Russia while on bail.
Thirty people aboard a Greenpeace ship were detained in Russia’s Arctic in September for a protest outside a floating oil rig and have been in custody since.
The activists were initially charged with piracy, but investigators later said they were bringing hooliganism charges and that piracy would be dropped. People convicted of hooliganism are normally subject to fines, not prison sentences.