Three Greenpeace crew members granted bail over Arctic oil rig protest
The ship’s doctor, Yekaterina Zaspa, and freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov – both of whom are Russian citizens – can be released as soon as two million rubles (US$61,300) bail is paid for each of them. Late on Monday, the court said that a third Russian citizen – Greenpeace press office chief Andrey Allakhverdov – could also be released on bail.
BREAKING: Andrey Allakhverdov (RUS) to be released on bail says court in St Petersburg. #FreeTheArctic30— Arctic Sunrise (@gp_sunrise) November 18, 2013
The court rejected the prosecution’s appeal to extend Sinyakov’s
arrest for another three months.
The judge stressed that Sinyakov was only serving as a photographer on Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise vessel, and was not taking part in any protest action.
The bail must be wire transferred within two working days. If the money is not paid by then, the two may remain in prison until at least December 8. The bail money will be reversed in favor of the state if Zaspa and Sinyakov fail to appear in court. The cash will be returned to Greenpeace if the two do not violate the judge’s demands.
Earlier on Monday, Zaspa told the court that she believes her arrest was “unfair,” adding that she is now on unpaid leave and should be back at work, Echo of Moscow radio reported.
BREAKING: Ekaterina Zaspa (RUS) to be released on bail says court in St Petersburg. First of Arctic 30 to be free on bail. #FreeTheArctic30— Arctic Sunrise (@gp_sunrise) November 18, 2013
In court, she stated that she is the only doctor at her hospital
in the city of Puschino (120 km from Moscow), who is fully
conversant with all the techniques of functional diagnostics.
A separate court in St Petersburg refused to free Australian
activist, Colin Russell, one of the 30 people arrested following
a Greenpeace protest against oil drilling in the Arctic.
Russell was the first to have his case heard, as investigators asked St. Petersburg courts to extend the detention period for all the accused.
All 30 people were remanded to a detention center after separate
hearings two months ago. On November 12 members of Greenpeace’s
Arctic Sunrise were transferred to St. Petersburg from Murmansk,
where they have been detained since September 24, because their
charges “do not fall under the jurisdiction of courts in the
The 28 activists and two reporters were initially arrested on
September 19 after an oil rig protest in the Barents Sea.
They were first charged with piracy which carries a possible jail
sentence of 15 years. However, Russia’s Investigative Committee
changed the charges to hooliganism,
punishable with a maximum of 7 years in jail.
While prosecutors say Greenpeace activists “posed a real threat” to employees when they attempted to scale Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oil platform, the environmental organization insists they are innocent of both charges.
As one of the arguments against the piracy charges, Greenpeace
pointed at satellite data that proving the Arctic Sunrise ship
did not breach the 500-meter zone around the platform.
Earlier in October, the Netherlands filed a lawsuit against
Russia in an international maritime court in a bid to win the
release of the Dutch-registered Greenpeace vessel Arctic Sunrise
and its members.
On November 6, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
held a hearing in Hamburg, Germany, into the Arctic
Sunrise icebreaker and its crew. The Netherlands demanded in
court the release of all the activists.
The Dutch claim that the Russian coast guards’ boarding of the
Arctic Sunrise, as well as arrests and prolonged detention, were
in violation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and
customary international law and, thus, was “internationally
Russia did not appear in court, as it had earlier dismissed the
request sent to the tribunal and said it would not take part in
the proceeding because it does not have to participate in legal
disputes that concern “sovereign rights and jurisdiction.”
The Greenpeace activists’ detention in Russia has sparked a
massive reaction among the group’s supporters, human rights
organizations and celebrities, including former Beatle, Paul McCartney and also the singer, Madonna.