Russia grants U.K-based Greenpeace activist amnesty; signals hope for Canadians
From left: Greenpeace International activists Camila Speziale of Argentina, Phiip Ball of the United Kingdom and Sini Saarela of Finland pose during their meeting with residents of St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday, Dec. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
Published Tuesday, December 24, 2013 8:46AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 24, 2013 2:45PM EST
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia -- Greenpeace says word that a U.K.-based activist detained in Russia has been granted amnesty is good news for two Canadians who have also detained.
Anthony Perrett of the United Kingdom has been told he could collect paperwork for leaving Russia on Thursday.
Paul Ruzycki of Port Colborne, Ont., and Alexandre Paul of Montreal were among 30 crew members on a Greenpeace ship who were detained after a protest at a Russian oil rig in September.
They were held for two months before being released last month but haven't yet been allowed to leave Russia.
Greenpeace spokesman Diego Creimer says Tuesday's news about Perrett is a good sign that the Canadians could also be allowed to go home soon, since in the past when a decision is made about one activist, the same tends to happen for the others.
He says once they are granted amnesty under a recently passed law, and the charges against them are dropped, the activists would next have to apply for a visa to exit Russia.
"As soon as they have the stamp in their passports they can fly back home," said Creimer, calling it "great news."
"We are ready to receive them back home, it depends on the Russians," he said.
The Greenpeace crew members were originally accused of piracy, a charge that was later changed to hooliganism.
Tuesday's news from Russia is the latest headline to come just two months before the Sochi Games and many observers say it's a move to repair the country's much-criticized human rights record.
First, Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky was released after a decade in prison, and then the last two Pussy Riot activists were pardoned and freed.