Greenpeace activists leave Russia after Putin’s amnesty

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Greenpeace activist Alexandre Paul of Montreal was released from a St. Petersburg jail on Nov. 22, 2013 after being arrested Sept. 19 for protesting against drilling in the Arctic. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)
Greenpeace activist Alexandre Paul of Montreal was released from a St. Petersburg jail on Nov. 22, 2013 after being arrested Sept. 19 for protesting against drilling in the Arctic. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)
Most of the 30 people arrested for a Greenpeace protest against Arctic oil drilling left Russia on Friday under an amnesty initiated by President Vladimir Putin, the environmental group said.

The activists’ departure, after charges against them were dropped, removes an irritant in Putin’s prickly ties with the West as Russia prepares to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi in February.

The demonstrators had faced up to seven years in jail for a protest at an offshore rig.

The first activist to leave took a train to Finland late on Thursday and by late Friday, 25 of the 26 foreigners among the group Greenpeace dubbed the “Arctic 30” had left Russia, the Netherlands-based organisation said.

“It’s over. We’re finally, truly free,” said Alex Harris, 27, from Devon in Britain.

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