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Christmas amnesty for Arctic 30, Pussy Riot

The Ecologist

18th December 2013

The Russian Parliament has today granted amnesty to the Arctic 30. The Duma voted 446-0 in favour of the Kremlin-backed amendment that extends an Amnesty Act to those charged with hooliganism.

The Arctic remains a fragile global treasure under assault by oil companies and the rising temperatures they're driving.

The amendment therefore includes the Arctic 30 - the 28 activists and two freelance journalists who were arrested following a protest at a Gazprom-operated Arctic oil platform three months ago. 

Legal proceedings against the Arctic 30 will now end - and the 26 non-Russians will be free to return home to their families as soon as they are given exit visas by the Russian authorities. This may even be in time to enjoy Christmas at home.

Peter Willcox, Captain of the Arctic Sunrise, said: "Now it's nearly over and we may soon be truly free - but there's no amnesty for the Arctic. We may soon be home, but the Arctic remains a fragile global treasure under assault by oil companies and the rising temperatures they're driving. We went there to protest against this madness. We were never the criminals here."

However the fate of his ship, currently impounded in Murmansk, remains uncertain - despite the order of an international court that it be released following a case brought by the Dutch government. 

The campaign to free the Arctic 30 has seen 860 protests in 46 countries and in more than 150 cities worldwide, while more than 2.6 million people wrote to Russian embassies.

Political support was offered by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Angela Merkel, David Cameron, François Hollande, Ban Ki-moon, Hillary Clinton, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

Jailed members of Pussy Riot Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are also in line for release under the terms of the amendment. Officials in Krasnoyarsk and Nizhny Novgorod, where they are held, have promised to free them "right away and without bureaucratic delay".

The Amnesty Bill was proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin to commemorate the anniversary of the passage of Russia's post-Soviet constitution 20 years ago. It is widely seen as part of a charm offensive in advance of the Winter Olympics in Sochi next year.



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