Canadian Greenpeace activists in Russia set to be freed

Greenpeace activist Paul Ruzycki of Canada, one of the 30 people who were arrested over a...

Greenpeace activist Paul Ruzycki of Canada, one of the 30 people who were arrested over a Greenpeace protest at the Prirazlomnaya oil rig, is pictured as he is released on bail from prison in St. Petersburg in this November 22, 2013 handout photo by Greenpeace. REUTERS/Vladimir Baryshev/Greenpeace/Handout via Reuters

Maryanne Firth, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:51 PM ET

PORT COLBORNE, Ont. -- Two Canadians who were arrested for taking part in a protest against Arctic oil drilling will likely be free and will avoid trial after Russia's parliament approved an amnesty proposed by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.

Paul Ruzycki, of Port Colborne, Ont., and Alexandre Paul, of Montreal, were arrested by Russian authorities Sept. 18. They were detained and charged with hooliganism along with 28 other activists after boarding an oil platform in the Pechora Sea. The group was dubbed the Arctic 30.

In an email to his sister after the announcement, Ruzycki said he was "one step closer" to making his way home.

"But until I see him in the Toronto airport, I'm not going to believe it," Patti Stirling said.

"We've been on this roller-coaster for 91 days now. This is the closest to the finish line we've been," she said.

Ruzycki told Stirling he would be meeting with lawyers and bureaucrats all day Wednesday and possibly Thursday to go over the fine print of legal documents required to get him home.

As the Arctic 30 did not intend to enter Russia, they don't have the proper exit visas in place, Stirling said.

"It's quite a process to leave Russia without exit papers," she said.

"It's a whole other world over there."

Stirling is uncertain how quickly the process could move along.

"It could happen in 24 hours or in 24 days," she said, adding Ruzycki intends to keep the family posted.

Greenpeace had said it did not expect Ruzycki and Paul would be home before the new year.

Reuters reported the lower house of parliament passed the amnesty, which Putin proposed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the passage of Russia's post-Soviet constitution.

The amnesty would also apply to two members of the punk protest group Pussy Riot. The two-year sentences handed to Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were criticized in the West as excessive.


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