March 11, 2014
More Greenpeace activists leave Russia
Most of the 30 people arrested for a Greenpeace protest against Arctic oil drilling have now left Russia under an amnesty initiated by President Vladimir Putin, the environmental group said.
The demonstrators had faced up to seven years in jail for a protest at an offshore rig.
The first activist to leave took a train to Finland late yesterday evening and by today, 25 of the 26 foreigners among the group Greenpeace dubbed the "Arctic 30" had left Russia, the Netherlands-based organisation said.
"It's over. We're finally, truly free," said Alex Harris, 27, from Devon in Britain.
"It feels like the moment I've been waiting for, and my family too, but also for millions of people around the world who have worked for this," she said in a statement.
Russia's treatment of the activists from 18 countries - who spent two months in detention and faced hooliganism charges punishable by seven years in jail - had drawn heavy criticism from Western nations and celebrities.
Criminal charges were dropped under an amnesty earlier this month which critics say was a move by President Vladimir Putin timed to improve Russia's image ahead of the Sochi Olympics.
Russia says activists endangered lives and property at Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya offshore platform. Greenpeace said the boarding of its icebreaker, Arctic Sunrise, was illegal and that its activists had protested peacefully.