Greenpeace Activists Get Exit Visas, Begin Leaving Russia

MOSCOW, December 27 (RIA Novosti) – All 30 environmental activists detained over a September protest at an Arctic oil rig and recently pardoned by a presidential amnesty have gotten visas to leave Russia, Greenpeace said Friday. 

“All the foreigners have received exit visas and passports and are going home,” Greenpeace wrote on its Russian Twitter page. 

Many of the activists began to leave Russia immediately after receiving travel documents on the 100th day since their initial detention. 

Swedish national Dima Litvinov was the first to cross the Russian border by train Monday, Greenpeace said, with several more leaving by plane from St. Petersburg on Monday afternoon.

The so-called Arctic 30, charged initially with piracy but later with hooliganism, were released on bail in November after being behind bars for over two months for protesting oil drilling in the environmentally sensitive Arctic region.

They were detained by Russian border guards after trying to climb onto an oil rig, owned by a subsidiary of Russia’s state gas company Gazprom, in international waters within Russia’s exclusive economic zone off the country’s north coast.

Russian investigators dropped the cases against the activists en masse earlier this week as part of a broad prison amnesty granted by President Vladimir Putin to mark the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution. 

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