Greenpeace activists' transfer to St. Petersburg may prepare their release - Human Rights Council

Kremlin Human Rights Council (HRC) head Mikhail Fedotov has welcomed the decision to transfer the arrested Greenpeace activists from Murmansk to St. Petersburg and suggested a pending alteration of the measure of their restraint.

"I think their transfer to St. Petersburg is an absolutely correct step. I also expect a positive decision on their future to be made shortly," Fedotov told reporters in St. Petersburg on Friday.

The measure of restraint can be changed by the Russian Investigative Committee, he said, adding that the Human Rights Council had made the relevant request to the Investigative Committee chairman.

"I believe their transfer to St. Petersburg has prepared the opportunity for a change in the measure of restraint. Then it will be possible to let the issue slide," the Council head continued.

"The problem does not have a legal solution; the solution may be diplomatic and political and I am confident it will be found," Fedotov said.

He also said that the conditions of the Greenpeace activists' custody in St. Petersburg were normal but regretted he had no time to visit them in the detention facilities on Friday.

The Arctic Sunrise vessel of the Greenpeace international nature conservancy organization was detained in the Pechora Sea on September 19 for an attempt to stage a protest against the drilling done by the Prirazlomnaya oil platform. The coast guard escorted the Arctic Sunrise to Murmansk on September 24. It had a multinational crew of 30, including four Russians.

The Russian Investigative Committee's department in the Northwestern Federal District opened a criminal case under Part 3, Article 227 of the Russian Criminal Code (an act of piracy committed by an organized group). Hooliganism charges were brought later. All the 30 Greenpeace activists were placed under arrest.

Thirty Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise activists were transferred from Murmansk to St. Petersburg in a train car on November 12. They were put into three detention centers in St. Petersburg.

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