Second Canadian Greenpeace activist is granted bail in Russia

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia – The two Canadians who were among 30 people arrested in Russia following a Greenpeace protest in the Arctic now have been granted bail.

Greenpeace spokesman Diego Creimer said Thursday that Alexandre Paul of Montreal had won bail, but said that both he and Paul Ruzycki of Port Colborne, Ont., who was granted bail Tuesday, have not yet been released.

Bail now has been granted this week to 26 of the people who were arrested in September on the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. The bail hearings were to continue Friday.

Bail has been set at two million rubles (US $61,500) but Greenpeace says the conditions of the bail have yet to be announced.

Paul’s mother Nicole Paul released a statement through Greenpeace on Thursday welcoming the news.

“I’m so happy that my son is going to be out of jail soon, and I hope he’ll be allowed to come home to us,” she said. “I’m so proud of him and everything he stands for.”

The rulings by judges in St. Petersburg could moderate the international criticism of Russia over the case.

Brazilian activist Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel, who was released late Wednesday, was the first one to walk free.

She was followed on Thursday by three Russian citizens and a crew member from New Zealand.

The Brazilian activist’s lawyer, Sergei Golubok, said Maciel was free to move about St. Petersburg and was given back her passport, but she “is not going to leave Russia before the situation is cleared up.”

As a Brazilian, Maciel does not need a visa to be in Russia. Many of the other foreign activists, however, would need a visa to remain in Russia legally. It was not clear what arrangements would be made or if they would be allowed to leave the country.

“We don’t know yet if they will be able to leave the country,” said Patric Salize, a Greenpeace spokesman in St. Petersburg. “We need to figure that out with the Russian authorities.”

All of those detained were initially charged with piracy, but investigators later changed the charge to hooliganism. Although a lesser charge, hooliganism carries a potential sentence of seven years. Piracy’s maximum is 15.

“Our case is not closed yet,” said activist Andrei Allakhverdov, one of the three Russians released Thursday. “We will fight for the case to be closed and for us to be found not guilty. I will go and take a shower now.”

The two other Russians freed were ship doctor Yekaterina Zaspa and photographer Denis Sinyakov. David John Haussmann of New Zealand also walked free.

The 30 were arrested in mid-September after the Arctic Sunrise, entered Arctic waters despite Russian warnings. Some of the activists tried to scale an offshore drilling platform owned by the state natural gas giant Gazprom.

On Wednesday, three Greenpeace protesters scaled Montreal’s Biosphere structure in support of the detained activists. Montreal police said the three, who climbed the giant globe-like structure to hang a banner, will be in court in February on mischief charges.

Greenpeace contends Arctic drilling poses potentially catastrophic environmental dangers. But Russia bristles at criticism of its oil and gas industry, which is the backbone of the country’s economy.

With files from The Associated Press

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