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ST. PETERSBURG, January 15 (Itar-Tass) - The criminal case against foreign activists from the ecological movement Greenpeace, who were arrested on criminal charges for participating in the September campaign at the Prirazlomnaya oil platform in the Arctic, will be finally closed not earlier than in February 2014, Andrey Suchkov, a lawyer for the detained environmentalists, said on Wednesday.
“I suppose that the issue of closing the criminal case will be settled in February,” he told Itar-Tass, adding that in order to close the case, it was necessary to complete a number of expert examinations and to make up a schedule for the transfer of the activists’ personal belongings and their arrested ship, The Arctic Sunrise, which would be released after that.
The 28 activists and two freelance journalists were arrested by Russian authorities in September 2013 after they attempted to scale Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya oilrig in the Barents Sea.
They were seized by Russian security guards and their vessel was towed to the port of Murmansk. The protesters - nationals of 18 countries and four Russians - were initially taken into custody on charges of piracy, later downgraded to hooliganism.
After two months in a Russian jail the Greenpeace activists have been released on bail. In December 2013, Russia formally dropped criminal charges against all crew aboard the ship, released under a Kremlin-backed amnesty. All 26 foreign activists managed to return home by the end of the last year.