Wednesday, 25 December 2013 - 19:56
Charges dropped against Greenpeace Activists
On Wednesday, Russia officially dropped criminal charges against Greenpeace activists arrested in a protest over Arctic oil drilling. Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise / Flcikr The charges were dropped under a amnesty extended to all 30 activists who had been facing up to seven years jail if convicted, Reuters reports. In September, Russia arrested 30 activists who were protesting against oil drilling in the Arctic. A Greenpeace ship, the Arctic Sunrise, was boarded by the Russian coast guard because it entered Arctic waters. According to Greenpeace organization, 29 of the 30 members have been amnestied and will be free to leave for their home countries as soon as they get visas. One member's case will be reviewed on Thursday. Over the last three months, Russia faced criticism from Western countries and celebrities for arresting the activists. Greenpeace activists are very happy. "This is the day we've been waiting for since our ship was boarded by armed commandos almost three months ago," Peter Willcox, who captained the Greenpeace vessel used in the protest, the Arctic Sunrise, said in a statement. "I'm pleased and relieved the charges have been dropped, but we should not have been charged at all." The state-controlled energy company Gazprom operates Prirazlomnaya platform in the Pechora Sea. The platform is an important element of Russia's plans to develop the Arctic. Russia claims that activists threatened lives and property in the protest at Prirazlomnaya platform. But Greenpeace does not agree and says its activists conducted a peaceful protest and Russian authorities illegally boarded its icebreaker.