Russia issues exit visa for activists
Russia has issued exit visas for 14 members of a group of 30 Greenpeace activists, allowing them to leave the country and return when charges were dropped against them.
The activists got their exit visas on Thursday, Greenpeace said, adding that other foreign members of the crew were expected to receive exit visas on Friday.
“Fourteen people have been given a visa. They will depart from Russia in the coming days,” said Greenpeace spokesman Arin de Hoog.
The environmental group also stated that Dmitri Litvinov, the first of the jailed activists from Sweden, boarded a train to Finland late Thursday.
Twenty-eight activists and two freelance journalists were arrested in September after they staged a demonstration outside a Russian oil rig in the Arctic and spent two months in prison over charges of piracy and hooliganism. They were granted bail in November.
The charge of piracy, which carries a punishment of 15 years in jail, was finally dropped, leaving the activists with the accusation of hooliganism with a punishment of up to seven years.
The case against one of the activists, Anthony Perrett of Britain, was closed on Tuesday.
Perrett was the first to get the visa on Thursday. He said in a statement released by the group that this “was the final step.”
“I will be leaving for home in Wales as soon as possible now, extremely proud of what I did three months ago. We took peaceful action to defend a part of the world that is the heartbeat of our climate,” he added.