A Russian court has released two Greenpeace crew members on bail, but kept another one in jail following a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic in a case that has drawn fierce criticism abroad.
The judge in St Petersburg on Monday ordered the release of freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov and ship doctor Yekaterina Zaspa on bail of $61,500 each, but declined to free Australian Greenpeace activist Colin Russell.
Russell, the radio operator on the Greenpeace boat, Arctic Sunrise, was denied bail by a separate court earlier on Monday.
The three were among 30 people on a Greenpeace ship seized by the Russian coast guard on September 18.
Meanwhile, investigators had asked the courts to extend the detention period of all 30, but the judge at Zaspa’s hearing said there were no grounds to extend the arrest for another three months.
Hearings for others are expected in the coming days.
|The activists were arrested by Russian authorities after they attempted to climb a drilling platform owned by Gazprom [Reuters]
"I'm here to defend my innocence. I have not committed a crime," said Russell, who was led into court in handcuffs and confined to a defendant's cage.
"I have not lifted a hand in an angry manner ever in my life. I have never been violent."
The 30 arrested over the protest, in which activists tried to scale the offshore Prirazlomnaya oil rig that is crucial to Russia's drive to tap Arctic energy resources, face up to seven years in jail if convicted of hooliganism.
The Russians arrested all on board the ship, including cooks and journalists documenting the protest, after a few environmental activists tried to scale an offshore drilling platform owned by Russian state energy giant Gazprom.
The court case has drawn much international attention and criticism.
"The case against the Arctic 30 has descended into high farce," Greenpeace representative Mads Christensen said in a statement.
"They should all be released from prison. This is a scandal, this bears no relation to the administration of justice. We will do everything we can to get our people out."
Western leaders leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have also expressed their concern to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the case.