29th Greenpeace Activist Released from Prison in St. Petersburg
Phil Ball from Oxford in England today became the 29th Greenpeace detainee to be granted bail and released from detention in St Petersburg. Only Australian Colin Russell remains behind bars in Russia for his part in a protest at a Gazprom-operated Arctic oil platform in September.
Phil Ball’s brother Steve said:
“It’s absolutely brilliant news. After two months in jail he could have done without another weekend behind bars, but it’s a great relief to know he’s finally out and able to talk to his friends and colleagues. Our thoughts though are still with Colin’s family – it’s great to see people from the four corners of the world calling for his immediate release and I do hope he’ll be able to join the other 29 soon.”
Arctic campaigner Ben Ayliffe at Greenpeace International said:
“This is news we’ve been waiting for all weekend, but of course our hearts and thoughts remain with Colin Russell and his family. Since being reunited after their release, our friends in St Petersburg have swapped stories, tears and experiences, hugged friends and each other and told of their great resolve and commitment to defending the Arctic against oil drilling and climate change. This is not over yet and none of us will be truly happy until all of the Arctic 30 have been released from detention and the charges against them dropped.”
It is not yet certain whether the released non-Russian nationals can leave Russia and return home, while lawyers for Colin Russell are lodging appeals against his continued detention and expect a hearing to be held this week.
Speaking to Australian media, Colin’s wife Christine – who plans to travel to St Petersburg with the couple’s daughter Madeleine this week – has appealed to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to do more to help secure Colin’s release.
“I just think Colin would be so ashamed at the thought that our prime minister and foreign affairs minister have not been able to take five minutes … and pick up the phone and make direct representations,” Russell said. “Please [Tony Abbott] pick up the phone and speak to President Putin before this bail appeal hearing.”
On Friday, in a case lodged by the Netherlands against Russia, the International Tribunal for the law of the Sea (ITLOS) ordered Russia to release the Arctic 30 and their ship the Arctic Sunrise upon the posting of a 3.6 million euro bond. Greenpeace International assumes the Russian Federation will comply with the Tribunal’s binding order.
Although Russia has said the Tribunal has no jurisdiction, the Foreign Ministry has also said it will look at the ruling and formulate a response. Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans has been quoted saying: “We will remain in discussions with Russia to bring this issue to a good ending.”
October 25, 2013; Photo: Greenpeace