Arctic 30 doctor given bail in St Petersburg
Amsterdam - Ekaterina Zaspa, one of the so-called Arctic 30, was today given bail by a court in St Petersburg. The development came on the same day that another detainee was refused bail and ordered to return to jail until February 24. Ekaterina was the doctor on board the Arctic Sunrise when it was seized at gunpoint following a peaceful protest against Arctic oil drilling.
Commenting on the development in the Kalininsky District Court, Mads Christensen of Greenpeace said:
“This is of course positive news, but this does not mean Ekaterina’s ordeal is in any way over. She may be released on bail, but she is still charged with hooliganism, the charge of piracy has not been officially withdrawn, and therefore she still faces maybe 20 years in jail for a crime she didn’t commit. And of course our beloved friend and colleague Colin did not get bail and is being sent back to a Russian prison cell for a further three months.”
“The case against the Arctic 30 has descended into high farce. An Australian environmentalist without a passport is refused bail on the grounds that he could flee the country or interfere in an investigation into a peaceful protest in the Arctic, while another detainee arrested in identical circumstances is told she can leave jail. 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.”
Ekaterina, known as Katya, is a 37-year-old doctor from Moscow. A passionate nature lover, she met her husband Ilya during work on a Greenpeace project cleaning up the shores of Lake Baikal. Whilst she has been a Greenpeace volunteer for well over a decade, her time aboard the Arctic Sunrise was the first time she sailed aboard a Greenpeace ship.
The prosecutor in Ekaterina’s hearing did not oppose bail and the judge agreed. In the same city on the same day in hearings relating to the same peaceful protest, a different prosecutor and a different judge ruled that Colin Russell from Australia should be jailed for a further three months.
Lawyers for the detainees will now appeal decisions to extend detention, and will apply for bail for all detainees whose detention is extended.
Prosecutors in court are not seeking extension of detention for piracy — the original charge brought against the 30. However, formal withdrawal of the piracy charge requires a written statement. Lawyers for the detainees have petitioned for such a statement but it has not been given — indicating that this is a policy decision and not an oversight by the authorities.
Activists in court today are Ana Paula Maciel (Brazil); Colin Russell (Australia); David John Haussmann (New Zealand); Ekaterina Zaspa (Russia); and Andrey Allakhverdov (Russia).
Freelance journalists Kieron Bryan (UK) and Denis Sinyakov (Russia) are also appearing in court.
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