Alexandre Paul, Greenpeace protester, gets bail in Russia

The second of two Canadian Greenpeace activists being held in jail in Russia for protesting against Arctic offshore drilling has been granted bail by Russian courts.

Canadian Paul Ruzycki was cleared for release earlier this week

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      The second of two Canadian Greenpeace activists being held in jail in Russia for protesting against Arctic offshore drilling has been granted bail by Russian courts.

      Alexandre Paul, 36, of Montreal, Que. was one of 30 protesters arrested at a drilling rig in September.

      His parents, Raymond and Nicole Paul, said they found out this morning that their son had been granted bail, though they said he hasn't left Russia yet. Paul's father said they haven't spoken to their son in two weeks, and hope to see him at their home near Montreal soon.

      "I hope to have him around, but he’s not quitting the job," he said.

      Nearly all the protesters, including Paul Ruzycki of Port Colborne, Ont., have been granted release on bail. Most of them are expected to be released before the weekend from the St. Petersburg jail where they are being held. 

      Lawyers said those protesters would be allowed to return to their homes pending trial. Greenpeace hoped to secure their release on Friday.

      Three Russian activists were also released on 2 million rubles ($63,800 Cdn) bail on Monday, though the court ruled an Australian protester can be held until Feb. 24.

      The 30 activists are charged with hooliganism over the protest, when some activists tried to scale an oil platform in the Pechora Sea that is Russia’s first offshore rig in the Arctic. Russia considers the rig to be a crucial part of its drive to exploit the region's energy resources.

      Greenpeace is also reporting today that the Murmansk Regional Court rejected an appeal today to release the Arctic Sunrise ship. The lawyer defending ship captain Peter Willcox is expected to file a petition with the court seeking the release of the ship.

      Arctic Sunrise was seized and its passengers were detained by Russian authorities on Sept. 19.

      'A high farce'

      The investigation is continuing and no trial date has been set.

      Paul Ruzycki, shown in a defendants' cage at a district court in Murmansk, Russia, was released on bail earlier this week. (Igor Podgorny/Greenpeace International/Associated Press)

      Greenpeace called the case against the so-called Arctic 30 "a high farce," saying the protest over the platform operated by state-controlled Russian energy giant Gazprom was peaceful and the charges are unfounded.

      The environmental group says drilling for oil in the Arctic threatens the region's pristine and unique environment.

      Russian President Vladimir Putin has said development and shipping in the region are important to Russia's economy and security.

      The 30 activists were initially charged with piracy, which is punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The charges were later downgraded to hooliganism. Putin has said they were clearly not pirates but that they had violated the law.

      With files from Reuters


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