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Arctic protester vows to fight on after Russian case closed

25 december 2013, 18:07
A British Greenpeace protester Tuesday said he was "jubilant" after Russia closed the criminal case against him for staging a protest on an oil rig, and vowed to keep fighting for environmental issues, AFP reports.

Russia has dropped the case against Anthony Perrett, one of the 30 crew members of a Greenpeace ship who were charged with hooliganism over a protest against Gazprom oil drilling in the Arctic, the group said.

The move, part of a Kremlin-backed amnesty, should pave the way for the other 29 crew members to have their cases closed and then allow the 26 foreign nationals charged in the saga to finally leave Russia.

Perrett from Newport, south Wales, told BBC Wales that it was a "great relief" to have the case dropped.

"I'm jubilant," he said from Saint Petersburg.

"From our point of view, we are entirely innocent. The only crimes being committed in the Arctic are those of the oil industry.

"I still feel very strongly about our cause, the period inside hasn't daunted me.

"My message is that humanity has to take a holistic view, we need a legally binding agreement to make an Arctic refuge, this was a small battle in this campaign," he stressed.

Perrett said his lowest moments were when he ran out of reading material and when Russian authorities applied for more time to investigate, raising the possibility of missing Christmas with his family.

But the protester said the action had been "absolutely worth it".

"If we don't do something who will?" he asked. "I've been frustrated and angry but that's the price you pay for standing up and being counted."

After their criminal cases are closed, the activists will still need exit visas to leave Russia as they have never officially entered the country on their Arctic Sunrise protest ship.

"They will be free to leave Russia once they get the right stamps in their passports from the migration service," said the Greenpeace spokesman in a statement to AFP.

"We know that getting those stamps would be the best Christmas present for the Arctic 30 and we hope it can occur quickly, but until such time as they do, we cannot say when they will leave."

Russia had held the 30 crew members since September after two activists scaled an oil rig in the Barents Sea owned by Gazprom to protest against oil prospecting.

Courts in Saint Petersburg in November ordered the release of all 30 on bail. Since then they have all been free but unable to leave the city. The Arctic Sunrise ship remains under Russian control in Murmansk.

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