ST PETERSBURG, Russia, Nov 18 (Reuters) – A Russian court granted bail on Monday to one of 30 people held in pre-trial detention over a Sept. 18 Greenpeace protest against offshore Arctic oil drilling, signalling some leniency was possible in a case that has damaged Moscow’s image abroad.
The 30 face up to seven years in jail if convicted of hooliganism for the protest, in which activists tried to scale an offshore oil rig that is crucial to Russia’s drive to tap the Arctic’s energy resources.
The court ruled that Yekaterina Zaspa, a Russian who served as a medic on the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise but was not among those who tried to climb the Prirazlomnaya rig, could be released on 2 million roubles ($61,300) bail.
Zaspa, 37, smiled as she listened to the ruling from a courtroom cage. She made no comment as guards took her out of the courtroom.
Greenpeace said it would take up to two days before the money is transferred to the court and she can be released.
Earlier on Monday, a separate court in St Petersburg denied bail to another arrestee in the case, Colin Russell of Australia, granting a request from prosecutors to hold him in custody until Feb. 24. He served as a radio operator on the Arctic Sunrise.
Greenpeace says the rush for the Arctic’s energy resources threatens the region’s pristine and unique environment.
($1 = 32.6232 Russian roubles) (Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Steve Gutterman and Ralph Boulton)
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