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Russia issues exit visas to Greenpeace Arctic crew

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Russia issues exit visas to Greenpeace Arctic crew

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It is the best present they could have asked for this Christmas.

Exit visits are being issued to the 26 foreign members of the Greenpeace team held in Russia over a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic.

It means they can head home now that criminal charges have been dropped as part of an amnesty, although they stress their campaign is far from over.

“We are not finished,” said Dutch activist Mannes Ubels, after receiving his visa.

“We can go home, yes, but what we came to do is try to make people aware of what is going on in the Arctic. That is something we have to continue in a different way. “

The so-called Arctic 30 were arrested in September after an attempt to scale a Russian oil rig in the Arctic.

They spent two months in detention. Initially accused of piracy, they later faced hooliganism charges punishable by seven years in jail.

Their amnesty and the release of other high-profile prisoners in Russia removes an irritant in relations between the Kremlin and the West ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi.