Saint Petersburg: Russian courts on Tuesday granted bail to nine foreign Greenpeace activists detained for a protest in the Arctic, bringing to 12 the number released over the last days and raising hopes of a solution to a case which has raised global concern.
Russia had held 30 crewmembers of Greenpeace`s Arctic Sunrise ship for over two months after activists in September scaled an oil rig in the Barents Sea owned by energy giant Gazprom to protest its oil drilling in the sensitive area.
Those released by courts in Saint Petersburg -- in a move that surprised some -- are unlikely to immediately be able to go home. They still face trial on charges that risk several years in jail.
Ana Paula Maciel of Brazil, New Zealander David John Haussmann and Argentina`s Miguel Hernan Perez Orsi were freed pending payment of a two-million-ruble (USD 61,400) bail each, Greenpeace said.
Also granted bail today were Paul Ruzycki from Canada, Tomasz Dziemianczuk from Poland, Italy`s Cristian D`Alessandro and Camila Speziale, who holds dual Italian-Argentine citizenship.
Later in the day Francesco Pisanu of France and Finland`s Sini Saarela were also granted bail for the same sum. Saarela was one of the two climbers who managed to attach themselves to the Gazprom platform.
None of those granted bail has been freed yet, with the process requiring the transfer of the bail funds by Greenpeace followed by confirmation that the money has been received.
Yesterday, two courts in the former imperial capital said bail would be granted to three Russian activists but ordered Australian activist Colin Russell to remain in pre-trial detention until February 24.