South East Wales

Greenpeace man Anthony Perrett 'relief' as charges dropped

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Media captionAnthony Perrett: "I couldn't speculate on the government's motive for releasing us"

The first Greenpeace activist to have charges against him dropped by Russian authorities says he is "relieved but not happy" to be freed.

Anthony Perrett, 32, of Newport, said he and 29 others held for a protest against Arctic oil-drilling were "entirely innocent" of hooliganism.

He will spend Christmas in St Petersburg and then has five days to leave the country.

All 30 activists have been granted amnesty under a new Russian law.

They were held in jail for two months following their protest in September.

Mr Perrett was the first to be released on bail in November.

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, Mr Perrett said he was told on the morning of Christmas Eve by the committee investigating possible charges against the activists that legal action against him was being dropped.

He then had a "high speed sprint" across St Petersburg to secure the paperwork for an exit visa.

Mr Perrett said: "I will collect my final piece of paper of Thursday but now I've officially had the charges dropped and I've been approved to leave the country.

"So from Thursday I will have five days in which to exit Russia."

He said he and his partner Zaharah Ally, also from Newport, plan to spend Christmas in St Petersburg.

"It is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so I'm not too worried about getting back for Christmas," said Mr Perrett.

"But the confirmation of arriving back in Wales before too long was enough to make our Christmas a jolly one.

"Without these charges being dropped, we were going to be here for an indefinite period.

Image caption Anthony Perrett was freed on bail in St Petersburg in November

"It's a great relief to have these criminal proceedings finally dropped. From our point of view, we're entirely innocent. The only crimes being committed in the Arctic are those of the oil industry.

"We're relieved but not happy. The crimes are still being committed in the Arctic and that is of great concern to us all.

"But for now we're going to take a day off from campaigning and have a nice Christmas meal.

"I fully intend to carry on the campaign but probably won't be doing anything in Russia ever again but Greenpeace man 'relief' over chargescertainly the campaign won't stop here."

All 30 activists were detained for protesting at an Arctic offshore oil rig owned by the Russian company Gazprom.

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