Russian Amnesty Law Set to Free Arctic 30 Protesters and Pussy Riot Members

sunrise

Pic: Salvatore Barbera (CC)

Shaun Walker and James Meikle write at the Guardian:

The Greenpeace “Arctic 30″ could be home by Christmas, and the two jailed members of the punk group Pussy Riot should be released from jail in the coming days, after a wide-ranging amnesty law was passed by the Russian parliament on Wednesday.

The Pussy Riot pair are serving a two-year sentence for hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, while the Greenpeace activists are charged with hooliganism and are currently on bail awaiting trial in St Petersburg.

The amnesty, backed by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, is timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Russia’s constitution. It mainly concerns first-time offenders, minors and women with small children.

An amendment on Wednesday extended the amnesty to suspects in cases of hooliganism, which includes the Arctic 30, who were arrested aboard the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise in September.

They were bailed by courts in St Petersburg last month but still faced trial and potential jail sentences of up to seven years.

The Greenpeace activists expressed relief, though Arctic Sunrise captain Peter Willcox said: “There is no amnesty for the Arctic.”

He added: “I might soon be going home to my family, but I should never have been charged and jailed in the first place.”

Read more here.

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