ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - A Russian court on Tuesday granted bail to nine foreign Greenpeace protesters, the first non-Russians jailed and awaiting trial over a demonstration near a Russian oil rig to be made eligible for release. The decision came a day after the Primorsky court in St. Petersburg refused to release an Australian activist, and another court granted bail to three Russians, including prominent photographer Denis Sinyakov.
The Primorsky court set bail at 2 million rubles ($61,500) each for the activists from Argentina, Canada, Brazil, Finland, France, Italy, New Zealand and Poland. The court said they will be released if the bail is paid within the next four days. One of the activists, Miguel Orsi of Argentina, clutched a photograph of his baby daughter and cried upon hearing the judge's decision.
Greenpeace said it would make the money available as soon as possible. Judges in Greenpeace hearings had previously agreed with prosecutors that the foreign activists in the case were a flight risk; the Primorsky court did not say whether the seven could leave Russia while on bail. No trial dates have been set. Thirty people aboard a Greenpeace ship were detained in Russia's Arctic in September for a protest outside a floating oil rig and have been in custody since. The activists were initially charged with piracy, but investigators later said they were bringing hooliganism charges and that the piracy charges would be dropped. People convicted of hooliganism are normally subject to fines, not prison sentences.
Nineteen other crew members are expecting court rulings on their detentions. Former Beatle Paul McCartney had urged President Vladimir Putin to release all 30 detainees.