Amnesty offers hope of rapid release

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 19/12/2013

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The family of Nelson man David Haussmann, who has been detained in Russia for three months, are hoping that an amnesty overnight will see his quick release and return home.

Mr Haussmann is among the Greenpeace crew - named the Arctic 30 - who were arrested and imprisoned following seizure off the ship Arctic Sunrise off the Russian coast in September.

They were protesting oil drilling in the Arctic in what Greenpeace has always maintained was a peaceful process.

Overnight, Russia's parliament unanimously passed an amnesty bill that could free the crew members and two women from the punk protest band Pussy Riot within days.

The reprieve is widely viewed as the Kremlin's attempt to soothe criticism of Russia's human rights records ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi in February, though it will come too late to prevent boycotts by several heads of state.

The bill specifically included the charge of hooliganism, which was used to prosecute the Greenpeace activists and two journalists, who were released from prison recently but have remained detained in St Petersburg.

Mr Haussmann's brother Tony Haussmann said a clearer picture was expected soon, but the news had been met with great relief. "It may still take a few days for them to find out exactly when they can leave.

"David was on email when the news came through (of the amnesty), and reactions in the emails were of great relief," Mr Haussmann said.

Carmen Gravatt of Greenpeace New Zealand said it was still not clear how quickly the crew would be able to leave Russia, "but it's looking good".

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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