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Russian human rights council asks to release Arctic Sunrise crew from custody

November 08, 2013, 15:03 UTC+3

The council also asks Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika to release human rights activist Mikhail Savva, detained in April on charges of fraud in grant fund distribution

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AP/Efrem Lukatsky

AP/Efrem Lukatsky

MOSCOW, November 8 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian presidential council for human rights, in a letter addressed to Investigative Committee chief Alexander Bastrykin, asks to consider release of the Arctic Sunrise ship crewmembers from custody, council head Mikhail Fedotov told a press conference on Friday.

"The document is ready and will be signed today," he said.

The council also asks Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika to instruct the prosecutor who participates in the court meetings over the case of human rights activist Mikhail Savva to ask the court to release the defendant from custody, Fedotov said. Savva, a Krasnodar scientist and a member of a non-profit organization, was detained in April on charges of fraud in grant fund distribution.

On September 18, the Arctic Sunrise ice-breaker with Greenpeace activists onboard approached the Prirazlomnaya oil platform, which was drilling a coastal shelf off the Murmansk region. The activists tried to climb onboard the platform. However, Russian border guards thwarted their actions. The vessel was towed to the Murmansk port. A Murmansk district court arrested 30 Greenpeace activists, representing 19 countries, and sentenced them to two months in prison on piracy charges. They are being kept in custody in several pre-trial detention wards of the Murmansk region.

In early October, the Leninsky district court in Murmansk issued a warrant to arrest all the 30 people, who were aboard the Arctic Sunrise, citizens of 18 states, including four Russians. They were placed in custody in Murmansk for two months. A criminal case was opened on piracy charges against all. Later, the Russian Investigative Committee brought charges of disorderly conduct, dismissing piracy. On the latter charge they may face up to seven-year imprisonment instead of up to ten years on the former charge.

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