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Russia to repay Greenpeace bail

Jan. 22, 2014 at 6:35 AM   |   Comments

MOSCOW, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- A lawyer for Russia's branch of Greenpeace said authorities started repaying bail money paid by activists arrested last year for protesting arctic oil drilling.

Anton Beneslavsky, the Greenpeace lawyer, said authorities in Russia started repaying bail money and returning the belongings seized from activists arrested in September for boarding an arctic drilling vessel in the far north of Russia, state news agency RIA Novosti reported Tuesday.

It was unclear how much repayment was involved. Beneslavsky added it was unclear when the Greenpeace's Arctic Sunrise would be returned by Russian authorities. The ship was seized following the September arrest and remains docked at the northern port city of Murmansk.

The release of the 28 activists and two freelance journalists, dubbed the Arctic 30, was secured in a December amnesty approved as Russia celebrated the 20th anniversary of its post-Soviet constitution.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the amnesty bill, he said he encouraged dialogue with the environmental group, not high-profile demonstrations.

Gazprom's Prirazlomnaya rig was deployed to the arctic in 2012 and is the first ice-resistant oil rig in the world. Greenpeace said it was concerned about the potential for an oil spill in the harsh arctic environment.

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