Russia passes amnesty including ‘Arctic 30’

Greenpeace18 December 2013, News Wires – The so-called ‘Arctic 30’ could see charges against them dropped within days after Russia’s parliament passed the proposed constitutional anniversary amnesty.

The Duma approved the bill unanimously on its third reading, Russia Today and Radio Free Europe reports from Moscow confirmed.

The amnesty, which is planned to last for six months, will start to take effect as soon as it is published, a move expected as soon as Thursday.

28 Greenpeace environmental activists and two freelancers would have faced up to six years in jail if convicted on charges of hooliganism levelled over September’s protest at an oil platform in the Russian Arctic.

Uncertainty over whether the pardon for 25,000 minor offenders would apply to the ‘Arctic 30′ was clarified on Tuesday when the parliament passed a last-minute amendment providing for the pardon to apply to those charged with hooliganism.

The amnesty was put forward last month by Russian President Vladimir Putin to mark 20 years since the enactment of the Russian constitution.

Initial drafts of the proposed amnesty had been ambiguous on its application to suspects in the case of three special offences included in the plans, one of them hooliganism.

The activists are presently out on bail pending an investigation of their case and are not allowed to leave Russia.

If pardoned as part of the six-month long amnesty, the only remaining potential bar on the protesters’ ability to return home would be the fact that they did not have entry visas for Russia when they were arrested.




– Upstream

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