Russia formally dropped criminal charges against Greenpeace activists arrested in a protest over Arctic oil drilling on Wednesday, under a Kremlin amnesty extended to all 30 who had been facing up to seven years jail if convicted.
The environmental group said 29 of the 30, who are still in Russia after being freed on bail, have now been amnestied and will be free to leave for their home countries as soon as they secure exit visas. One more activist’s case will be reviewed on Thursday, it said.
Russia’s treatment of the activists – who spent two months in detention and had faced hooliganism charges punishable by seven years in jail – had drawn heavy criticism from Western nations and celebrities.
Their amnesty will remove an irritant in relations in what Kremlin critics say is a move timed to improve Russia’s image ahead of the Sochi Olympics.