Saint Petersburg: Russia on Thursday released 10 Greenpeace activists on bail, bringing to 11 the number freed from jail as President Vladimir Putin said the group had noble motives for their Arctic protest.
The activists who walked free from prison included Russian freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov, Greenpeace press secretary Andrei Allakhverdov and Finnish activist Sini Saarela, who was one of those to scale a state-owned oil platform.
Their release came after Greenpeace paid bail of two million rubles (USD 60,750) each. The first activist to be freed was Brazil`s Ana Paul Maciel yesterday.
Putin said he believed the Greenpeace activists were acting with good intentions, but that they were wrong to climb up the oil platform and ram the boats of coastguards.
"Are they doing something noble? Yes, they are. Did they act rightly when they climbed the platform? No, it was not right," he said in televised comments at a meeting with writers.
"Some climbed onto the platform, while others attacked our coastguards, practically storming them with their boats," Putin said.
Putin quoted a catch phrase from a 1960s-era Soviet comedy film referring to physical punishment: "Fedya, that`s not our method."
After treating the 30 crewmembers harshly on their arrest, the Russian authorities have gradually climbed down, reducing their charge from piracy to hooliganism and now sanctioning their release.
Today, courts granted bail to six more activists: Jon Beauchamp of New Zealand, British crewmembers Frank Hewetson and Iain Rogers, Ukrainian cook Ruslan Yakushev, Canadian bosun Alexandre Paul and Turkish activist Gizem Akhan, Greenpeace said.
Fifteen activists were now awaiting release on bail, while one Australian activist had bail refused. The last three activists are scheduled to attend court hearings tomorrow.
But the activists still face a possible jail sentence of up to seven years.