Russia Pardons Arctic Sunrise Crew, Issues Exit Visas

ST. PETERSBURG, December 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russia has started issuing exit visas for the crew members of a Greenpeace protest ship after dropping legal cases against all of them, the environmental organization said on Thursday.

The charges were dropped as part of a broad prison amnesty approved by state lawmakers earlier this month to mark the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution.

“The last Arctic 30 member, Cristian d’Alessandro, was notified that charges against him were dropped as part of the amnesty,” Greenpeace Russia spokeswoman Maria Favorskaya said. “He will request a visa within the next few hours.”

Greenpeace said on its Twitter page that one of the activists, Anthony Perrett, had already received an exit visa after being pardoned on Tuesday.

The so-called Arctic 30, charged initially with piracy but later with hooliganism, were released on bail in November. They had spent over two months in custody after being detained by Russian border guards for attempting to board a Russian oil rig, as part of a protest against oil drilling in the environmentally sensitive Arctic region.

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