Russia grants bail to last Greenpeace activist


A Greenpeace activist behind makeshift prison bars, Oct. 31, 2013, in Paris.


Pierre Andrieu

A Russian court has granted bail to Australian Collin Russell, the last of 30 Greenpeace activists who were detained for protesting Arctic oil drilling.

The St. Petersburg court set Russell's bail at two million rubles ($61,500) on Thursday. He was the only activist denied bail at the beginning of last week's hearings.

"A new chapter starts today. But this is not over yet. They still stand accused of a crime they did not commit," said Greenpeace International's Ben Ayliffe.

"They took peaceful action on behalf of us all, standing up against destructive Arctic oil drilling and the onslaught of climate change."

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All 30 Greenpeace activists face a maximum sentence of seven years in jail The 29 other members of the group were bailed earlier this month about several weeks in prison.

Russell's bail announcement came as a surprise, as on Wednesday he was ordered held in pre-trial detention for another three months. Russia has given no explanation as to why he was the only activist whose initial bail request was refused.

Russian border guards arrested the 30 people on board the Arctic Sunrise — 28 activists and two freelance journalists — in September when some of the activists tried to scale an offshore drilling platform owned by Gazprom. They were initially charged with piracy, but authorities later revised it to hooliganism.