The Greenpeace Arctic Sunrise crew accused of an attack against the Prirazlomnaya oilrig will be eligible for amnesty but the amnesty bill was not drawn up especially to free them from punishment, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

"As to their possible eligibility for this amnesty, and as I understand they are eligible, we did not do that for their sake," he told a press conference in Moscow on Thursday.

"If they are eligible, that is good. I think what has happened should serve as a lesson and should set both of us, hopefully, the Greenpeace organization, as well, to do the joint positive work," the president said.

"Not to make noise but to minimize environmental risks whenever such risks occur," Putin said.

The Russian Coast Guard stopped the Arctic Sunrise vessel operated by Greenpeace in the Pechora Sea on September 19 after some environmentalists attempted to protest against oil extraction on the Prirazlomnaya drilling platform.

The Arctic Sunrise was towed to Murmansk on September 24. It was carrying a crew composed of thirty citizens of several countries, including three Russian citizens.

The environmentalists were accused of piracy and sentenced to two months in custody. The Investigations Committee later reclassified their actions as hooliganism.

Initially, all detainees were kept in detention facilities in Murmansk. They were transferred to St. Petersburg on November 12.

On November 18-28, St. Petersburg courts released the Arctic Sunrise crewmembers on a two-million-ruble ($60,500) bail each.

The State Duma declared the amnesty on December 18 to observe the 20th anniversary of the Russian constitution. It was reported that the Arctic Sunrise crew might enjoy the amnesty.

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